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What to expect from Iraq’s election on Saturday

Tomorrow, Iraqis will be voting for the first time since their territory was liberated from the Islamic State's rule.

Tomorrow, Iraqis will be voting for the first time since their territory was liberated from the Islamic State's rule. Given the current security-related, sectarian and economic challenges facing the country as well the heavy burden of rebuilding Iraq after four years of war, this federal election will play a major role in shaping Iraq's future. The main competition is between a number of Shiite parties which were at one point united, but now have split into a number of competing parties. The main competitors for the position of prime minister are incumbent Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, former prime minister Nuri al-Maliki, and militia commander Hadi al-Ameri. Likewise, Sunni and Kurdish parties are divided. Under an informal power-sharing arrangement in which certain political positions are allocated to specific religious and ethnic communities, the prime minister is a Shiite while the president is Kurdish and the speaker of parliament is a Sunni. Despite promises of a shift from identity to issue-based politics in Iraq, systematic change is unrealistic with over 90 percent of the coalitions competing for office having been a part of previous elections.

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