Al-Sadr's victory is confirmed, opening a new political stage in Iraq

The appeals of the pro-Iranian currents are not accepted and the Saddamist Movement ratifies its victory

REUTERS/ALAA AL-MARJANI  -   Iraqi Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr speaks after the announcement of the preliminary results of Iraq's parliamentary elections in Najaf, Iraq, 11 October 2021.

The appeals against the results of the elections held on 10 October in Iraq have not been accepted by the Electoral Commission. It will now be up to the Federal Court to definitively ratify the results, which give a wide victory to the Saddamist Movement. In 2018, the formation led by the Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr was already the most voted formation, reaching 54 seats which, on that occasion, were not enough to form a government. Now, however, the 73 seats won should be enough to form a new government, especially after the significant decline of the Iranian-backed Fatah Alliance, which has fallen from 48 to 14 seats.

A government between the Sadrist Movement, Taqadum and the Kurdistan Democratic Party seems the most realistic alternative at this stage. Muqtada al-Sadr could approach Taqadum (Progress Party) - a Sunni formation led by the Speaker of Parliament, Mohamed al Halbusi - and the Kurdistan Democratic Party, which, despite having supported the previous government, could be open to negotiating with al-Sadr in order to obtain the greatest number of supporters to form a new government. With 41 and 31 seats respectively, added to Sadr's 73 seats, this would leave 145 seats. The remaining 20 seats - 165 are needed to achieve an absolute majority - could be won through support from independents.

AP/HADI MIZBAN - Supporters of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr celebrate holding their placards, following the announcement of the parliamentary election results in Tahrir Square, Baghdad, Iraq, Monday, Oct. 11, 2021.

Nuri al-Maliki, former prime minister and leader of the State of Law party is the Shia cleric's main adversary. Maliki has already made initial contacts with some parties in an attempt to counter Muqtada al-Sadr, with whom he has many differences, not only on a political level, but also on a personal level. However, it should be borne in mind that it is still too early to take any kind of alliance for granted and that, although it is possible to sense what the options are, the negotiations for the formation of a government could take several months.

In the time that could elapse before Iraq has a new government, the atmosphere is not likely to become any calmer. Despite the Electoral Commission's decision, the pro-Iranian parties have not changed their views on the election results. At the time, Hadi al-Ameri, one of Al-Fateh's top leaders, strongly rejected the results now ratified by the EC: "We do not accept these fabricated results and we will vigorously defend the votes of our candidates and voters".

PHOTO/REUTERS - An Iraqi woman undergoes a fingerprint scan to verify her identity before voting at a polling station during parliamentary elections, in Sadr City, Baghdad, Iraq October 10, 2021.

Almost two months after the elections, the position of both Al-Fateh and some Shia sectors has not changed at all. The "Coordination Framework Forces", following the decision of the Election Commission, have issued a statement saying that "it is clear and beyond any doubt that the Election Commission has prepared the results of the elections in advance, at the expense of the will of the Iraqi people". They also criticise the appeals process they conducted, saying that "the Electoral Commission and the Judiciary did not treat the appeals file seriously and in accordance with the applicable legal contexts".

Following the Commission's decision, a still complex phase begins for Iraqi society. The crisis that the country was already experiencing, aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic, has wreaked havoc and there is an urgent need to take measures that can bring minimal relief to the population. However, the solution seems complicated in the short term, as the formation of the new government is just beginning and Nuri al-Maliki's intentions are none other than to try to "steal" support from Muqtada al-Sadr and avoid a government led by the Shiite cleric, presumably far removed from Iran's position.