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Iraq's 2009 provincial and regional elections: the dynamics of political identity since 2005

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The results of rushed provincial and national elections in 2005 polarized local identities, submerging chances for a return to Iraqi tolerance and coexistence. The provincial polls of January 2009 however reawakened Iraqi tendencies for more national, moderate and even secular ideals compared with 2005 voting dominated by religious and regional identities. The July 2009 election of a new Kurdish opposition opened possibilities for more democratic relations with Baghdad. Political coalitions are reflecting a common identity with Iraqis struggling to emerge from the consequences of insurgency, Islamization, constitutional ambiguity, regionalism and corrupt leadership.

Through the prism of 2009 provincial and regional election results in fourteen provinces and in Kurdistan, this article compares voting with the 2005 local and regional elections. Research explains the link between party behaviour and the dynamics of Iraqi political identities. After detailing the work of election commissions in 2004 and 2008, provincial and regional poll results, in particular those in Ninewa, Kurdistan and Karbala, will be examined to highlight current political trends, geopolitical challenges and national coalition prospects for parliamentary elections in March 2010. Constitutional and parliamentary developments since 2005 will reveal that Iraqi behaviour continues to reflect a tradition of political concession-making and of tribal manoeuvering which surpass any religious affiliations. A brief tracing of the complex journey of Iraqi identity will serve to evaluate prospects for reconciliation and coexistence in Iraq.

Post-election negotiations mark a reversal from the decentralizing 2005 constitution which detailed the parameters of a weak federation. Along with the provincial election results, such developments reject regionalization and spell the end of ethno-federalism and religious meddling in politics. A federal system under a more effective central authority is on the rise.
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Keywords: Coalitions; Elections; Iraq; Kurdistan; Political Parties; Tribes

Document Type: Review Article

Affiliations: University of Ottawa

Publication date: August 1, 2010

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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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