After weeks of political deadlock, the elections in Iraq were finalized and the parliament elected a speaker. Their choice was Salim al-Jubouri of the Alliance of National Powers, who won 194 of the 273 votes, clearly above the necessary 165 votes.
This came after previous failed attempts to create a deal for the new government. The first session of Parliament saw only 255 of the 328 members, the missing ones either boycotting or afraid to visit Baghdad because of the violence.
Possible deals were placed on the table, including allowing the Kurds to announce their choice for president in exchange for the Shiites’ National Alliance bloc to elect a Shiite prime minister.
However, no deal was formally agreed upon.
The United Nations issued a statement about the situation, responding to the extremely high June death toll (3 times that of May’s and the highest since 2008) and the politicians’ inability to agree.
“Politicians in Iraq need to realize that it is no longer business as usual,” said Representative Nickolay Mladenov. “I call upon all political leaders to set aside their differences. What can be achieved through a constitutional, political process cannot be achieved through an exclusively military response, security must be restored, but the root causes of violence must be addressed.”
Parliament finally put their foot in the door by appointing Salim al-Jubouri, a moderate Islamist, as the new Speaker.
Parliament also elected two deputy speakers: Haider al-Abadi, a Shiite from Maliki’s Dawa Party, and Aram al-Sheikh Mohammad, a Kurd from the Goran Party. Salim al-Jubouri was elected as a member of parliament and head of the legal committee in 2005, and was elected again as a member, this time as the head of the human rights committee for the 2014 parliament.
Because there is a newly elected speaker, according to the Iraqi constitution, a new president, who by constitution must be a Kurd, should be chosen within 30 days after the speaker has been elected.
Jubouri does not expect a decision for the presidency that soon.
Once the president has been elected, he has the responsibility to name the nominee of the Council of Representatives bloc with the largest number of lawmakers, who then nominates the Prime Minister.
By law, the prime minister must be a Shia Arab. The prime minister-designate then selects his cabinet members and presents that list to parliament within 30 days.
The system of a Sunni speaker, Shia Arab prime minister and Kurd president was created in order to bring balance to the government, to mend the highly divided state and ensure one group would not overtake the others.
Current Prime Minister Nouri Maliki wishes to run for another term, but the majority of parliament wants him to step down.
A unified government is necessary for Iraq to overcome its issues with the Sunni insurgency and general security concerns. Although this election came with some setbacks and disagreements, there are still improvements to celebrate.
“We shortened the time compared to the last time,” said Abbass al-Bayati, a Shiite lawmaker. “This is evidence that Iraqi democracy is on the right track.”