Oct 21 Iraq's fractious parliament has failed to agree on a law that will determine how the next election is run, raising fears of a delay in a vote seen as crucial for consolidating democracy after years of war. [ID:nLL34113]
While allegiances are fluid and may yet shift again, here is a list of what appear to be the likely major coalitions and alliances that will contest the Jan. 16 poll.
STATE OF LAW
* Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has created a broad-based alliance of his Dawa party and other groups including some Sunni tribal leaders, Shi'ite Kurds, Christians and independents. Dawa's roots are Islamist, but the coalition plans to run on a non-sectarian platform. It hopes that security gains under Maliki and promises to improve public services and ensure Iraq remains a strong, united state will win it seats. Maliki's allies were the main winners of 2009 provincial elections fought on the same platform.
IRAQI NATIONAL ALLIANCE * The Shi'ite alliance bringing together the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (ISCI), followers of anti-American cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, Basra-based Fadhila, a few Sunni leaders, former prime minister Ibrahim Jaafari, Ahmed Chalabi -- a former exile who played a key role before the 2003 U.S. invasion -- and some smaller groups is the main rival to Maliki's coalition. ISCI and the Sadrists have lost ground since holding sway over the Shi'ite electorate only a few years ago. Some observers say the group may split after the vote, which will be run on an anti-Maliki stance, because of disagreements between ISCI and the Sadrists.
KURDS * The Kurdish coalition is dominated by the two parties administering Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdish region. The Kurdish Democratic Party led by the region's president, Masoud Barzani, and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan headed by Iraq's national president, Jalal Talabani, are both secular in nature and enjoy close ties with the West. The two parties faced a major challenge in Kurdistan's parliamentary vote this year from the Change bloc, which won about a quarter of the seats.
* Tribal leaders will play an important role in the election and are being courted by major parties looking to boost their national vote. Some of Iraq's Sunni tribal leaders sprang to prominence when U.S. forces began backing local sheikhs against al Qaeda in western provinces. Their ranks are riven by dissent and they have been unable to form a united front.
* Since the 2005 national elections al-Tawafuq, or the Iraqi Accordance Front, has seen many splits and divisions, and now consists of the Iraqi Islamic Party (IIP) and some tribal leaders. The IIP was the only major Sunni bloc to participate in the 2005 election. The group, which includes the speaker of parliament, is unlikely to gain the same number of seats due to divisions within the Sunni electorate.
* Former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, a secular Shi'ite, is expected to align with two senior Sunni politicians -- Saleh al-Mutlaq and Iraqi Vice President Tarek al-Hashemi -- and run on a non-sectarian platform.
* Interior Minister Jawad al-Bolani, Ahmed Abu Risha, a top leader of anti-al Qaeda tribal sheikhs, and Ahmed Abdul Ghafour al-Samarrai of the Sunni Endowment have also formed a group.
MINORITY PARTIES * Iraq's minority Turkmen, Christians, Yazidis, Sabeans, Assyrians, Shabak, Faili Kurds and others are likely to ally with a bigger party in areas where they are not dominant. (Reporting by Baghdad Bureau; writing by Jack Kimball; editing by Michael Christie)