In this guide to the Iraqi elections, Foreign Policy takes a look at the manifold parties, coalitions, and sects involved, providing a comprehensive profile of each party's leadership, main constituency, power center, and history.
"It's good to be the king," Mel Brooks famously intoned in the 1981 film History of the World, Part I. What is often forgotten is that Brooks was portraying French King Louis XVI -- who would soon be found guilty of treason and executed by guillotine in 1793. As Iraq approaches its March 7 parliamentary election, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki can no doubt relate: While he currently sits at the top of the political hierarchy, a diverse array of opponents have assembled coalitions in an attempt to unseat him.
Maliki's "State of Law" coalition, which bases its appeal on a continuation of the security gains that the country has enjoyed since 2007, still remains strong. By shucking off the religious Shiite parties and adopting a more nationalistic discourse, Maliki has charted a course that, for many Iraqis, has represented a clean break from the sectarian violence that shook Iraq from 2003 to 2007.