Iraq watchers, watch this
The National Democratic Institute (NDI) April 2012 Iraq polling sheds expected but clear light on the political situation there: especially among Shia Iraqis and in Baghdad, Prime Minister Maliki is a hit. Among Kurds in the North and Sunnis in the West, that is far less the case. While commentary in Washington has been mostly negative since completion of the U.S. withdrawal at the end of 2011, an increasing percentage of Iraqis appreciate Maliki and think the country is heading in the right direction.
There are of course things that could upset the trends, and NDI explicates those:
- Failure to address jobs and basic services concerns
- Sunni insecurities intensify
- Disaffected Shias shifting support
- Ability for opposition groups to emerge and build a strategic campaign
- North’s divisions with Baghdad intensify
But so far, Maliki has a lot to stack up to his credit. Chosen prime minister because he looked weaker than the alternatives, he is proving that he has the vital requirement of a democratic politician: approval (and presumably votes at the next election). The big question is whether he will use his improved position to consolidate democracy in Iraq or undermine it.