Sunday, February 12, 2006

Iraq's new PM decided...

The UIA chooses Jafari to become the new Prime Minister.

The voting that took place a short while ago gave 64 votes to the Da'wa candidate Jafari and 63 votes to the SCIRI candidate AbdulMahdi.

Earlier observations on the conditions within the UIA predicted that each of the two candidates had ~55 secured votes leaving approximately 20 votes undecided. Those remaining 20 votes represent the Fadheela Party that until Friday had its own candidate.

Jafari had the support of the two wings of the Da'wa Party as well as that of the Sadrists while AbdulMahdi had the support of the SCIRI and the independents within the UIA.
Knowing that Jafari and AbdulMahdi got 64 and 63 votes respectively indicates a division among the members Fadheela Party over whom to support after their candidate withdrew his nomination and apparently the votes of Fadheela were split equally between Jafari and AbdulMahdi.

There is a theory that the UIA decided to make Jafari win in a compromise to avoid an internal conflict over the chairmanship of the UIA because the charter of the UIA states that chairmanship of the bloc and that of the cabinet cannot be granted to the same party, which means al-Hakeem wouldn't be able to keep his position as head of the bloc if AbdulMahdi was chosen for heading the government.

It is unclear how other parliamentary blocs are going to react to the results of this voting. Both the Kurdish alliance and the Accord Front expressed publicly more than once that they would prefer AbdulMahdi over Jafari.
The Accord Front now is part of a larger bloc that has 80 seats in the parliament after they allied with the Iraqi list and the Dialogue Front and it is believed that the latter two share the same attitude towards Jafari and AbdulMahdi.

Even though Jafari won the vote inside the UIA, he still needs to win support of the parliament by 50%+1 of the 275 votes.
The Kurds and the United Congress for National Work (the Sunni+Allawi) collectively have 133 votes and if joined by the Kurdistan Islamic Union who has 5 votes they will have a total of 138 votes which is 50% of the parliament seats which means that their votes are essential for the cabinet to be approved.

Choosing Jafari will most likely complicate the process of forming the government and longer negotiations will be needed if the UIA wants to convince the others to accept and support Jafari's cabinet.

It's worth mentioning that the Accord Front at an earlier time asked the UIA to let them take part in the voting since they (the UIA) will eventually have to get the support of other blocs for their candidate. But the UIA refused this suggestion.

As far as I know, there's no clear constitution text on what to do if the cabinet fails to win the required number of votes.
Anyway, it is still kind of early to discuss this possibility and it is better to wait and see how the rest of the blocs are going to react.

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