Iraq Elections 2018: What you need to know

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  • Sadr’s victory is more fanfare than substance. His Sa’iroon coalition only secured 54 seats while his nearest rival Hadi al-Amiri secured 47. Even if he allies with third-placed outgoing Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi who has 42 seats, he is well short of the numbers required to significantly influence policy.


  • Sadr’s 54 seats is a loose coalition with secular/communist elements. Uncertainty remains over how effectively he will be able to maintain unity within his bloc, particularly as they begin to grumble over negotiations with the Iran-backed parties.


  • It is an exaggeration to suggest Sadr is anti-Iran. In 2006 and 2010, Sadr was pushed by Tehran to prop up Maliki’s government. In 2014, he retired from politics after being passed over again by Tehran in favour of Maliki. Sadr would welcome Tehran’s undivided and favourable attention. Such attention is unlikely to be forthcoming however.


  • Sadr’s real power is that Iranian-backed parties need Sadr’s seats to pass the 165 seat majority threshold. This gives Sadr some bargaining power, but not necessarily significant enough to thwart his rivals.


  • Sadr’s 54 seats were secured from a dubious 44% turnout, suggesting apathy is much greater than his own popular support.


  • Haider al-Abadi is seen as the frontrunner for PM. He is seen as a conciliatory candidate among the parties, and among the international players.


  • If the government continues to struggle, Sadr is likely to seek to preserve his reputation by claiming he is not part of the establishment as he has no official role and did not run himself.