The Political Magic of the Number '153'
This week's piece for Hudson-NY carries the title: Maliki in Trouble.
Ayad al-Samarrai was elected speaker of the Iraqi parliament on Sunday after garnering 153 votes. There are 275 members in the Iraqi parliament, and 138 votes were all Samarrai would have needed to pass the threshold. The ‘yea’ votes in Samarrai’s favor spell trouble for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, since the same number could be arrayed to yield a vote of ‘no confidence’ in his cabinet.
The ‘153’ bloc is an anti-Maliki coalition, rather than a pro-Samarrai faction. Those who backed Samarrai did so with the tacit understanding that his election would be the opening act in the drama to unseat the prime minister. Some sources even claim that there is a written document bearing the signatures of the anti-Maliki conspirators, and that the plan involves mustering political momentum by mid-summer to pass the ‘no confidence’ resolution—the votes are already there, but the political atmosphere in Baghdad needs to be prepared for a showdown with Maliki, who remains popular for now.