The victory of Saairun (Marching Forward) in Iraq’s 12 May elections took many by surprise. The alliance which united the Shi’i Islamist Sadrist movement, led by the cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, and the Iraqi Communist Party (ICP) won more seats (54) than any other electoral coalition.
Much has been written since the shock election result reflecting on Muqtada’s supposed transformation from ‘fiery cleric’ to political reformer who may now hold the key to Iraq’s future. Some have gone so far as to argue that the Islamist leader is now championing a ‘secular-oriented’ politics. This positive coverage tends to gloss over the profound scepticism about the reforming potential of the Sadrist–ICP alliance within Iraqi secular civil society. Nor does it dwell on the internal divisions and fragmentation of Iraq’s secular political scene that developed, in part, as a direct consequence of the Sadrist convergence.
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