Iraq’s 2014 National Elections


Iraq’s 2014 National Elections

21 Apr 2014

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) who provide an informed understanding of military affairs through reliable research, analysis and education published a substantial report during the build up to the Iraqi elections held on 30 April 2014. Ahmed Ali, an Iraq Research Analyst and Iraq Team lead at the ISW uses this report as a guide to the background to the elections at a difficult time for the country.

Key points:

The report looks at the important figures in the Iraqi government, the position of the Iraqi Kurds, the disunity of the Sunni politics, the position of Iraq's religious authorities and more.

  • Iraq's 2014 national elections are taking place at a difficult time. The country is at a crossroads, presented with the possibility of widely different futures.
  • The Iraqi state does not hold control of territory in some of Iraq's key political provinces, such as Anbar, Ninewa, and Diyala.
  • The disenfranchisement of Iraq's Arab Sunnis; the rising threat of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS); and the activation of Ba'athist groups collectively discourage electoral participation.
  • Shi'a militias that threatened Iraq's security in 2004 have reactivated in 2014, though Asai'b Ahl al-Haq (AAH), the Badr Organization, and parties affiliated with the Sadrist Trend are actively participating in elections as well.
  • The political mobilization of these groups, some in competition with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, demonstrates a retreat from Iraqi Shi'a political unity; however, it also raises new concerns about public perceptions of the need for personal protection beyond what the state has been able to provide.
  • The increasing threat of spillover from the Syrian war and high levels of violence in Iraq have cast doubt on the ability of Iraq's national elections to generate an outlet of healthy political competition that empowers Iraq's population to participate.
  • Security and local identity are dominant themes in the 2014 elections. This is a stark contrast to Iraq's 2010 elections, which primarily involved strategies of ethno-sectarian unity.
  • The major Iraqi Shi'a groups in 2010 coalesced and formed the Iraqi National Alliance (INA). At the same time, the Iraqi Sunnis joined forces under the umbrella of former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi's Iraqiyya alliance; and the Iraqi Kurds formed the Kurdistani alliance, unifying the efforts of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). Instead, pre-election coalitions in 2014 have re-crystalized around primary stakeholders within the main Iraqi Sunni, Shi'a, and Kurdish blocs, generating competition rather than unity.
  • Successful elections will also be necessary to test the health of the Iraq's political system and the faith of the Iraqi people in that system as a means to provide for their own security. But such electoral conditions may produce new power dynamics within the national government that may threaten the interests of Iraq's main political stakeholders, namely Maliki.
  • Maliki has been in power for eight of the eleven years since the April 9, 2003 fall of Saddam Hussein. He has been calling for majoritarian rule and preparing to run for a third term. He is resolved upon one desired outcome.

You can read more of the report here.

This article summarises an external report, and is not to be taken as the view of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation. 

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