Unconventional thinking about the Middle East.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The 'Speaker of the Parliament' Saga Continues

I had written this piece for Hudson-NY yesterday (...it ran today), and it seems that the latest news from Baghdad have validated my points: Ayad al-Samarrai only got 136 votes (he needed 138 to become the new speaker of the Iraqi parliament).

The drama took a whole new twist, again as predicted, with the emergence of two competing legal intrepretations of today's results: the Islamic Party (IP) claims that its candidate Samarrai is the new speaker, since he got a simple majority (50 percent plus 1) of the total number of attendees of today's session, after quorum having been achieved. On the other end, the anti-IP camp claims that Samarrai failed to pass the threshhold of a simple majority as calculated by the total number of parliamentarians (275) irrespective of the number of attendees. According to the latter, Samarrai is now barred from running again.

Furthermore, some Iraqi media outlets are floating the idea that the speakership will go to a "consensus candidate" such as "Adnan al-Pachachi or Hachim al-Hassani". The first is a cranky and venal diva much unsuited to the world of political compromises (plus, he's legally a Shii), and the second is seen as a turncoat to his sect, party, coalition, ethnicity and so forth. In other words, fat chance that the most coveted "Sunni" slot up for grabs will go to such characters; whoever gets the speakership gets to pretend to be the leader of the Sunnis. As I speculated in the piece, I'm wagering that Salih al-Mutlag will make a go at it.

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