Iraqi parliament to convene first legislative session of 2022

Iraq’s new parliament—confirmed after the October 10 general elections—is expected to sit today. Its first priority will be electing government

Photo: Karim Kadim/AP

Iraq’s new parliament—confirmed after the October 10 general elections—is expected to sit today.

Its first priority will be electing government officeholders, including the prime minister, who will form the new government.

Expect Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr—the biggest winner of the October elections, with a slightly increased bloc of 73 seats—to exert the largest influence in choosing the prime minister. The losers include the Iran-backed militia-aligned parties, which aim to remove the incumbent Sadr-supported Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, though their share of seats fell to just 10.

However, there is no clear path to the 165-seat majority required. Al-Sadr will likely have to negotiate with the secular parties of incumbent Speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi and ex-Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s State of Law coalition, though this still leaves him 22 seats short of the majority. Traditionally, negotiations between the parliamentary blocs are heavily involved and time-consuming.

As such, Iraq’s two main Kurdish parties are potential kingmakers, with a combined 50 seats in the new parliament. The price of Kurdish support will likely be high, with the separatist region demanding a higher share of the federal budget and more control of Kurdish oil revenues.

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