Aug. 25, 2009, midnight
Prime Minister Nouri MALIKI will not run with the mostly Shiite Iraqi National Alliance (INA) in Iraq’s Parliamentary elections next January. MALIKI has withdrawn his Dawa Party from the United Iraqi Alliance, the INA’s predecessor grouping, in order form a new party with members from the country’s three main ethnic and sectarian groups. According to many analysts, the Prime Minister seeks to build on the success of his State of Law coalition, a secular organization that won a plurality of votes nationwide in regional elections last January. Several believe the success of the new party will depend heavily on MALIKI’S personal popularity, as the voting system used for national elections places a premium on parties’ brand recognition. According to observers of the 2005 elections, that system facilitated competition along sectarian lines. Regional assembly elections last winter, by contrast, allowed voters to choose among individual candidates, rewarding many who campaigned as independents.