Iraq on the Eve of Elections

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Contact: Megan Ortagus
(863) 398-8164 cell
March 4, 2010

ISW releases a comprehensive report on the dynamic political landscape in Iraq prior to parliamentary elections, the government formation process after the vote and likely outcomes

Washington, D.C. - The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) has published a detailed backgrounder on this Sunday's parliamentary elections, Iraq on the Eve of Elections, by Marisa Cochrane Sullivan and James Danly . ISW’s 15-page report offers analysis and likely outcomes from two Iraq experts who have written about the region extensively.

"Our report details the precarious position Prime Minister Maliki is in at the moment because he is surrounded by rivals seeking to unseat him,” said former U.S. Army officer and ISW Fellow James Danly. "It is likely that this election will be viewed as legitimate but it is the period of government formation that follows the vote which will be messy," Mr. Danly concluded.

"In an emerging democracy like Iraq, the second election is often the most important test for a peaceful transfer of power and the reason why so many are watching this election closely,” explained ISW Research Director, Marisa Cochrane Sullivan. Mrs. Sullivan continued, "This publication also highlights the fact that Sunnis, Shi'as and Kurds in Iraq have the opportunity to express their political will via democratic processes rather than through violence."

Download 'Iraq on the Eve of Elections' by Marisa Cochcrane Sullivanand James Danly.

Key facts from the report:

  • 6,172 candidates are vying for 325 seats in the Council of Representatives. Roughly 18.9 million Iraqis are registered to vote in the upcoming election, at more than 10,000 polling centers across the country.
  • More than 300,000 domestic election observers and eight diplomatic missions and international organizations have been asked to participate as election monitors. Security will be provided by Iraqi Security Forces with assistance from U.S. military enablers and planners.
  • There are 5 leading electoral coalitions jockeying for power: State of Law List, Iraqi National Alliance, Iraqi List, Unity of Iraq List, and the Kurdistan List. The report covers the leading power players and political alliances within each list.
  • Religion, which was the dominant theme in the 2005 election, has been largely overshadowed by economic messages. Prominent politicians have campaigned widely on the need for better provision of essential services, the creation of jobs, and overall economic development.
  • Kurdish support will likely be required to form the governing coalition. A broad Shi'a alliance is certainly a possible outcome, and one that Iran will also press for given its desire for a overwhelmingly Shi'a government.

To request Mrs. Sullivan or Mr. Danly for a media interview, please contact ISW Communications Director Megan Ortagus or (863) 398-6184 cell.
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The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) is a non-partisan, non-profit, public policy research organization. ISW advances an informed understanding of military affairs through reliable research, trusted analysis, and innovative education. We are committed to improving the nation's ability to execute military operations and respond to emerging threats in order to achieve U.S. strategic objectives.