Backgrounder: Political groups vie to win Iraq's snap parliamentary elections

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BAGHDAD, Oct. 8 (Xinhua) -- Iraq will hold its early parliamentary elections on Oct. 10, in which 3,249 candidates will compete for 329 seats in the parliament.

Originally scheduled for 2022, the fifth elections since the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 have been advanced under the pressure of months of protests against corruption, mismanagement, and lack of public services.

This year's elections were marked by the new election law, which divided Iraq into 83 electoral districts to break the monopoly of traditional political blocs.

According to the Iraqi Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC), about 24 million Iraqis are eligible to cast their ballots for 3,249 candidates, running individually or within 167 parties and coalitions, vying for 329 seats in the parliament.

Here are some of the main competing political blocs that represent the three main components of the Iraqi people: Shiites, Sunnis, and Kurds.


The leading Shiite blocs, who have dominated Iraq since 2003, are fighting to lead the political scene.

The Sadrist Movement, backed by the prominent Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, stands a good chance to win the largest Shiite seats to claim the post of prime minister. The well-organized Sadr followers are mainly live in Sadr City in eastern Baghdad and other Iraq's central and southern provinces.

In the electoral competition, the Sadrist Movement is counting on its popularity to win the post of prime minister.

The Alliance of Iraqi National Forces, which includes the Hikma (Wisdom) Movement, is led by the moderate Shiite cleric Ammar al-Hakim, former Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, and some smaller political groups.

The alliance represents the moderate Shiite line among the Shiite community and is expected to join the frontrunners in the upcoming elections.

The al-Fateh Coalition (Conquest), headed by Hadi al-Ameri, leader of the Badr Organization, includes some groups of the predominantly Shiite militias of Hashd Shaabi, who fought the extremist Islamic State (IS) group with government forces. The coalition leader and the militias have close ties with neighboring Iran.

In the 2018 elections, the al-Fateh came second with 47 seats. Observers expect the coalition to be among the frontrunners of the upcoming elections.

State of Law Coalition is headed by the former Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, also secretary-general of the Islamic Dawa Party.

Al-Maliki's coalition, facing strong rivals, is not expected to compete for the lead in upcoming elections. Besides, he is rejected by many local, regional and international parties, especially after Iraq lost about a third of its land to the IS group, and more than four million people were displaced during his eight-year rule.


The competition on the Sunni field is expected to take place between two major political groups who will win the majority Sunni seats, and each seeks to win the position of Speaker of Parliament.

Civil Democratic Forces Alliance, also known as Taqaddum, or progress, is headed by current parliament speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi. It is an umbrella body for several Sunni parties, politicians, and tribal leaders from Baghdad and other Sunni provinces in the west and north of the capital.

Taqaddum coalition is expected to be the frontrunner in the upcoming elections in the Sunni arena.

Azem Iraq Alliance, another major Sunni group, is headed by businessman Khamis al-Khanjar. The alliance includes eight parties and prominent Sunni figures such as former speakers Mahmoud al-Mashhadani and Salim al-Jubouri, and some former ministers and lawmakers.

A third group is the Alliance of National Salvation Project, led by former Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi, and includes many politicians from the northern province of Nineveh. The alliance is expected to win some seats in the polls.

The Sunni parties together hold 73 seats in the current parliament, and their politicians claim that their seats will rise to 80 or even 90 seats after the approval of 83 electoral districts instead of 18 in the new election law.


The two traditional Kurdish parties of Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), headed by the Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani, and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), led by the family of the former Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, dominate the political scene in the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan.

The KDP Coalition is expected to dominate in the Kurdish provinces of Erbil and Duhok. The coalition is running in the coming polls with some non-Kurd candidates in other electoral districts outside Kurdistan's three provinces.

Another major Kurdish group is the Kurdistan Coalition, which includes the PUK and the opposition's political group of the Gorran (Change) Movement.


Most political groups representing protesters of the months-long demonstrations in central and southern Iraq decided to boycott the elections. However, eight parties remain to compete in the polls, such as the Imtidad Movement, led by the activist Alaa al-Rikabi, a pharmacologist who participated in the protest in the southern province of Dhi Qar. Enditem

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