So the results are in and we’ve had time to mull over their significance. Here’s an attempt at forecasting the effects of different coalition combinations for Iraq and political entities.
So a successful coalition needs at least 163 to gain 50% or more of Parliament
Scenario 1: The Difficult Partnership, INM (Allawi) + SOL (Maliki) = 180
Comfortable majority, the ‘will of the people’. Maliki reluctantly accedes prime ministership to Allawi but takes interior, defence and foreign ministries. The two strong personalities frequently clash especially over de-baathification, foreign policy and almost everything resulting in a public punch up caught live on TV. The coalition crumbles amid mutual accusations of power hunger, fraud, outside interests and the like.
Scenario 2: The Reunion, SOL (Maliki) + INA (Hakim+Sadrists) + small group = 159+4 or so more seats
Sadrists refuse to join unless Maliki is not PM. SOL realise there is no one else fit for the job let alone to run ministries. Ahmed Chalabi seizes the indecision, butters up the Sadrists, Majlis and parts of SOL to become leading candidate for PM. US very worried about this and try to intevene, INM not happy being left out (brand it fraud) and more unhappy about rumours of Chalabi PM, counter-lobbying starts in earnest. Chalabi again denied PM and a relatively unknown compromise candidate emerges, this is all quite familiar…
Scenaro 3: The coalition of the unwilling, INM (Allawi)+Kurdish Alliance (Talabani+Barazani)+Gorran+Tawafuq+Wahdat Al-Iraq+Kurdish Islamic union+minorities = 164
Just scraping a majority and leaving the two main Shii Islamic-leaning blocs out. Very fragmented and pulling in all different directions, the coalition soon crumbles amid accusations of Allawi’s dictatorial tendencies. Back to the drawing board…
Scenario 4: Unlikely bed fellows, INM+INA+(Kurdish alliance/Gorran/Tawafuq etc…) = 163-236
Allawi, Sadrists and Kurdish Alliance – recipe for distaster. Kirkuk becomes a major line of tension almost immediately Kurds vs INM and INA split in between. Kurdish alliance leaves coalition but INM and INA make new coalition with the other small blocs. However Sadrists don’t easily forget the last Allawi premiership and make life difficult for INM. Dysfunctional government lurches from one crisis to another and the patronage networks flow and flow to keep everyone happy. The Iraqi people are not so happy.
There are plenty more possible combinations and larger coalitions but I have tried to keep it simple. The forecast difficulties above may have been slightly exaggerated but it does hopefully highlight the perilous task at hand that can potentially disrupt a fragile situation. It’s up to the politicians to reduce tensions, compromise and respect the final make-up of a government. Irresponsible mud-slinging prior to this has dangerously stoked ill-feeling across the country and if they aren’t careful, personal ambition may wreck the tenuous stability that has gradually returned to Iraq, but I’m not holding my breath.