In 2010 most analysts predicted a landslide victory for Dawlat al-Qanum (the movement led by incumbent Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki) but the party came second after Iraqiyya, obliging al-Maliki to reach to Muqtada al-Sadr and Ammar al-Hakim to form a new coalition. This time Dawlat al-Qanun is still indicated as the most influential political actor even if its hold over the Iraqi political arena appears less solid than in 2009-2010. Do you agree with this analysis? Which political party (or alliance) do you think could threaten al-Maliki's hold over the Iraqi political system?
I agree with this analysis. This time the structure of government coalitions will be different from the past. Sadrists, as well as Ammar al-Hakim and Massoud Barzani, are likely not to form any coalition with Mr Maliki, even if the incumbent Prime Minister gets the biggest share of votes in the upcoming elections. On the contrary, new coalitions are destined to emerge and some are already emerging. Mr Barzani is trying to bring Mr al-Hakim, Atheel al-Nujaifi, the Sadrists and Iyad Allawi together. According to a 2010 interpretation of the constitutional court, the biggest block winning the elections is entitled to form the government, and this could favour this potential anti al-Maliki entente. Furthermore, media reports forecast current members of PM Maliki’ slate (either from his own party, or from his coalition) to leave the alliance soon after the ballot. In this case, a super partes Shia politician with no specific party affiliation is likely to be appointed as Prime Minister.
How Iraqis perceive the next elections? Do they believe the voting can have a significant impact on the Iraqi reconstruction process or are they disillusioned by the current political system?
Two months ago surveys predicted very low turnout. Now, it seems that voters’ number is growing increasingly higher, due to a more effective electoral campaign strategy. The driving force of the campaign seems however to be the attempt by every sect in the political arena – Shi’a, Sunni’s and Kurds - to seize control of the upcoming government, rather than to collaborate to solve the country’s structural problems. The result will be an even more unbalanced parliament than today, very similar in its composition to the one that came out of 2006 elections. This will surely lead to instability and will also affect the reconstruction process.
How do you think the security vacuum in al-Anbar and the growing instability registered since 2013 will affect the elections?
Prime Minister al-Maliki proved unable to cope with the unstable security situation in most of Sunni-majority provinces, al-Anbar in particular. More than 50% of the al-Anbar population are currently displaced over 13 different provinces. Furthermore, due to the current instability, significant portions of Sunni-majority areas will be excluded from April 30th vote. In this framework, Sunnis risk to be the big losers of the next elections.