Monday, July 20, 2009

Maliki sets high-handed demands for joining the UIA

According to unnamed Shiite politicians, Maliki has set very high-handed demands for rebuilding the main Shiite coalition known as the United Iraqi Alliance (UIA). Al-Sabah al-Jedid reports that the demands include:

- Half the electoral slots go to Maliki's Da'awa Party
- Maliki retains the Premiership
- Abolishing sectarian quotas in the allocation of public offices
- Reforming the sectarian identity of the UIA

These demands seem to reflect the facts on the ground in light of the results of January's provincial elections. Mailik's Da'awa Party fared much better than any other individual political party. That said, it is logical for Maliki to use this advantageous position to improve his standings as the country prepares for general elections. The other Shiite parties will be facing two choices. The first would be to accept the new status quo and bandwagon with Maliki. The second would be to challenge the status quo and align with other parties to balance Maliki.
My guess is that they will opt for the latter.

In my opinion the upcoming general elections will be a showdown between two trends. On the one hand there are what I call the 'Federalists'; those who want more power in the hands of regional administrations and less power in the hands of the central government. These are represented by parties such as the ISCI and the two major Kurdish parties. On the other hand there are the 'Nationalists' who want to have a stronger central government and to restrict the powers of regional administrations. These are represented by Maliki's Da'awa Party, the Fadheela Party, most Sunni Arabs as well as former PM Iyad Allawi's Iraqi List.

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