Unconventional thinking about the Middle East.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

About Those Sadrist Numbers

Sixty-eight candidates from the Iraqi National Alliance made it to parliament, 38 of whom are Sadrist (alternatively called Tayyar Al-Ahrar) candidates. (Two ‘compensation’ seats were also awarded to the INA, but I don’t know who got them.)

That means that Sadrists got 55.8 percent of the seat allocation of the INA. However, an examination of the numbers reveals that the total tally received by Sadrist candidates was only 32.4 percent of the INA total.

By now it is clear to most how the Sadrists did it: they spread out their votes among multiple candidates, propelling them to the top of the INA slate as the number ordering got reshuffled according to the highest vote earners. Then, the candidates highest on the reshuffled list got topped off from the total slate tally until they reached the threshold number of votes in each province, calculated as the total number of voters divided by the number of seats in parliament assigned to each province.

The way the Sadrists did that was to mobilize their ground operation for individual candidates based on locality. For example, they would ask their voters in certain sectors of Sadr City to vote for one candidate, while voters in other sectors would vote for some other Sadrist candidate.

Here’s a summary of how they performed in 11 of Iraq’s 18 provinces (I only considered the provinces were Sadrist candidates were competitive):

Wasit: Sadrist candidates (3) received a total of 44,746 votes out of an INA total of 129,188 (34.6 percent). 3 of the INA’s 4 MPs are Sadrists (11 MPs represent this province in parliament). Sadrists received 11.8 percent of the overall vote in Wasit.

Diwaniyya (Qadisiyya): Sadrist candidates (3) received a total of 32,755 votes out of an INA total of 133,821 (24.5 percent). 2 of the INA’s 5 MPs are Sadrists (11 MPs represent this province in parliament). Sadrists received 8.7 percent of the overall vote in Diwaniya.

Nassiriyya (Dhi Qar): Sadrist candidates (4) received a total of 78,994 votes out of an INA total of 244,818 (32.3 percent). 4 of the INA’s 9 MPs are Sadrists (18 MPs represent this province in parliament). Sadrists received 13.8 percent of the overall vote in Nassiriyya.

Maysan (Amara): Sadrist candidates (3) received a total of 51,511 votes out of an INA total of 135,319 (38 percent). 3 of the INA’s 6 MPs are Sadrists (10 MPs represent this province in parliament). Sadrists received 18.8 percent of the overall vote in Maysan.

Diyala: Sadrist candidates (2) received a total of 19,046 votes out of an INA total of 85,821 (22.2 percent). 2 of the INA’s 3 MPs are Sadrists (13 MPs represent this province in parliament). Sadrists received 3.8 percent of the overall vote in Diyala.

Muthana (Samawa): Sadrist candidates (2) received a total of 15,490 votes out of an INA total of 71,699 (21.6 percent). 1 of the INA’s 3 MPs is a Sadrist (7 MPs represent this province in parliament). Sadrists received 6.7 percent of the overall vote in Muthana.

Karbala: Sadrist candidates (2) received a total of 27,688 votes out of an INA total of 81,794 (33.9 percent). 2 of the INA’s 3 MPs are Sadrists (10 MPs represent this province in parliament). Sadrists received 8.3 percent of the overall vote in Karbala.

Najaf: Sadrist candidates (3) received a total of 49,736 votes out of an INA total of 152,698 (32.6 percent). 3 of the INA’s 5 MPs are Sadrists (12 MPs represent this province in parliament). Sadrists received 12 percent of the overall vote in Najaf.

Basra: Sadrist candidates (3) received a total of 65,039 votes out of an INA total of 237,010 (27.4 percent). 3 of the INA’s 7 MPs are Sadrists (24 MPs represent this province in parliament). Sadrists received 8 percent of the overall vote in Basra.

Baghdad: Sadrist candidates (16) received a total of 221,533 votes out of an INA total of 561,659 (39.4 percent). 12 of the INA’s 17 MPs are Sadrists (68 MPs represent this province in parliament). Sadrists received 8.7 percent of the overall vote in Baghdad.

Babil (Hilla): Sadrist candidates (4) received a total of 46,633 votes out of an INA total of 180,193 (26 percent). 3 of the INA’s 5 MPs are Sadrists (16 MPs represent this province in parliament). Sadrists received 8 percent of the overall vote in Babil.

The total number of votes received by the 45 candidates that the Sadrists fielded in the provinces above was 653,171 out of an INA total of 2,014,020 (32.4 percent). The total number of votes cast in these provinces was 7,015,008. So the Sadrist percentage of the overall vote in the Shia ‘heartland’ plus Baghdad and Diyala is 9.3 percent.

Those 653,171 votes Sadrists got from all the 11 provinces should be compared to the 622,961 votes Nouri al-Maliki got for himself in Baghdad province; so almost the same number of voters ticked off Maliki’s name in a single province as the number of Sadrist voters from all over. The proportionality doesn't seem quite fair: the Sadrists get 12 seats in Baghdad with 221,533 votes, while Maliki's Baghdad slate has 903,360 votes (four times as many) but only gets 26 seats in the province. That’s something to mull over.

Theoretically, the predominately Shi’a, pseudo-slummy districts of Sadr City, Shu’la, Hurriya, Washash, Baya’, Seydiyya, Ur, Sha’ab, and Husseiniya, where Sadrists claim their ‘stronghold’, should account for over 50 percent of Baghdad’s population. But the Sadrists only pulled off 8.7 percent of the vote in Baghdad.

Same goes for Basra (8 percent). And even Maysan (19 percent), which the Sadrists liked to portray as ‘their’ province.

It seems that some Western journalists (…and some strategists in Tehran) would like to think of the Sadrists as a Hezbollah-like organization, tailor made for Iraq; they seem to view the Sadrists as a dynamic, revolutionary movement that is supported by millions of poor, destitute Shi’as, or so the narrative goes. One even detects the same type of romanticizing of Hezbollah among some analysts and media people writing in English being applied to the Mahdi Army. ‘Armed freedom fighters against America, now savvy politicians’ and that all that noise. It is true that the Sadrists pulled off a neat political trick by turning minority numbers of votes within the INA into a majority seating. But their real appeal among Shi’a Iraqis has also been revealed: the Sadrists are a small minority of the Shi’a population (10 percent isn’t much, so who speaks for the other 90 percent of Shi’as?), and they can’t even claim to represent the Shi’a slums anymore.

I hope more journalists and analysts will pay attention to these numbers before they speak of a Sadrist ‘groundswell’.

30 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Someone should forward this post to Patrick Cockburn. Have you read his book about Muqtada, Nibras?

4:09 AM, April 02, 2010

 
Anonymous gj said...

Very, very good campaigning trick. Musta been taking lessons from the Obots. Serves ISCI right for getting into bed with Moqtada.

If Maliki has the political smarts, he will blah blah and blah blah and blah blah to everybody for months if necessary while not, in reality, conceding one inch to Kurds and ISCI/Badr until they are ready to meet his terms.

10:43 PM, April 02, 2010

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

sorry to tell you they won't pay attention to your factual argument because they want to frame shias as stupied and ignorants who follow Mugtada. i feel as if some of these writters want someone like mugtada and Ammar and the inept people to be in control why i don't know. I'm sure there is a benfit for them
for you please continue you are doing great job
so many thanks
T.A

9:33 AM, April 06, 2010

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thanks so much fo this; I was deeply puzzled by how the JAM thugs got so many seats

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

This remains the best explanation of how MAS took advantage of the electoral system to maximize his advantage. But when did the IHEC determine to rearrange the list before apportioning overall vote? This is atypical of proportional systems with vote preference. Thoughts?

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