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With Elections Nearing, Iraq’s Maliki Confronts His Shiite Challengers

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

As Iraq gears up for general elections scheduled for April 30, the political constellation that has allowed Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to stay in power for two terms is realigning in unexpected ways, raising questions about Maliki’s ability to retain Iraq’s top job.

Apart from the similar context of violence in which it will likely take place, this round of voting will be greatly different from the three other national elections held since 2005. First, the country’s political landscape is more fragmented than it used to be. Former large alliances have given way to smaller entities, even as the electoral law adopted in November 2013 gives precedence for forming a government to the largest bloc, be it an electoral coalition or one formed after the polls. Second, the decline of cross-sectarian alliances has paved the way for more intracommunal competition, especially among Shiites. Combined, this should make the post-electoral bargaining even more challenging and difficult than in 2010, and the impact of the results harder to predict. ...

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