Iraq’s poll verdict promises no big change - GulfToday

Iraq’s poll verdict promises no big change


The photo has been used for illustrative purpose.

The early indications of Iraq’s Sunday parliamentary election with a low 41 per cent turnout show that Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr’s group has improved its position from 54 seats it had won in the 2018 election to 73 this time, and the Fateh alliance, considered a pro-Iranian group, has managed 12 seats, a comedown from the 48 seats it had held. In a parliament of 329, no faction has the simple majority to form a government on its own.

Political observers say that there will be long drawn-out negotiations among the big and small groups before a government can be formed. While the people had no great expectations from the national election though it was the street protests over economic distress that forced the government to bring the election forward which was due in 2022. A prominent political figure of the pro-Iranian group, Hadi al-Amiri, had called the election result a ‘scam’ and that it will be challenged through all the legal measures available to them.

The political situation is not as desperate as it appears to be. The election verdict seems to confirm the status quo, where the existing groups are engaged in a game of musical chairs, where one group gets an advantage over the other but as no one group does not have a majority, all the groups will negotiate and make compromises. The negotiations will take place and the compromises will be made and it will take time. But the majority of the 40 million Iraqis remain dissatisfied with the verdict because political power remains with the existing groups, and people do not expect that the politicians will do anything to improve the condition of the people.

The apparent political deadlock in Iraq cannot be attributed to the fact that Iraq is a developing country because even in a sophisticated democracy like Germany, the verdict in the national election showed that there was no clarity and there are months of negotiations ahead before a government is formed. So, the political situation in Iraq is not as strange as it may appear.

The outside observers, especially those in the West and in the Arab neighbourhood, are likely to see the Iraq poll verdict in a different light. They are likely to interpret the emergence of al-Sadr’s group in a stronger position as the weakening of Iran’s influence in Iraqi affairs. But there are others who say that though al-Sadr is opposed to any kind of foreign role in Iraqi politics, whether it is American or Iranian, he still maintains close relations with Iranian leaders.

It is also asserted that it is the pro-Iranian militias in Iraq who had fought and defeated the Daesh in Syria, which had for a while occupied part of Iraq. The challenge before any Iraqi government is to improve the economic situation in the country and nothing else. The issue of whether Iran is interfering in internal matters of Iraq remains an irrelevant question compared to the domestic economic crisis in Iraq.

Ever since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, Iraq has gone through five elections and whatever the imperfections of democracy, the new political system has survived. The obligation of political leaders and groups in the country is to forge a developmental strategy for the Iraqis which will lift them out of their debilitating poverty.

In nearly two decades after Saddam Hussein’s fall, Iraq has gone through many convulsions, mostly violent. They deserve peace and development, and they have a right to dream of a better future for themselves and their children. People expect change for the better from elections. But the people of Iraq are disappointed by this election.

Related articles