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De-sectarianizing patterns of political mobilization in the post-conflict Iraq

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Sectarian identity has played a significant role in electoral politics in Iraq after 2003. As in the cases related to the former Yugoslavia, ethic/sectarian cleavages are often mobilized when majority systems are introduced instantly through elections. In Iraq, electoral blocs were formed along sectarian lines in order to gain a majority of voters collectively, in a situation where most of the major political parties were composed of expatriates and had not yet established nationwide supportive bases inside Iraq. Mobilization patterns are diverse; United Iraqi Alliance (UIA) relied on sectarian networks, mainly in the southern governorates, while Iraqiya succeeded in obtaining a majority of votes in the central regions by combining various sources of mobilization, such as tribal, local and kinship networks, through which the fame of candidates was established. Differences among political parties in the patterns of nominating candidates depended on those in the previous regime. Iraqiya followed a similar pattern of mobilization during the former ruling system, while the al-Da'wa Party in UIA pursued absorption of local power into their own party structure, which caused conflicts between provincial political elites and the central government in 2011. Once the period during which competition for the ruling position in the central political authority has passed, forms of political contention other than sectarian rivalries emerge.

Keywords: Iraq; Iraqiya; election; political party; provincial council; sectarianism

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Chiba University

Publication date: November 15, 2012

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  • The International Journal of Contemporary Iraqi Studies is a new peer-reviewed, tri- annual, academic publication devoted to the study of modern Iraq. In recognition of Iraq's increasingly important position on the world stage, the time is right for a new journal dedicated to scholarly engagement with the country.
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