The Iraq Election Puzzle
In a winner-take-all system such as the election of an American president, a small difference can be crucial, as demonstrated in the 2000 election. But Iraq has a multi-party parliamentary system, and neither coalition has close to a majority of the seats. In order to form a government, either one of them needs a coalition with one or more smaller parties. The fact that one party has two more seats than another has almost no effect on its ability to do so. So far as I can tell, the only effect is that the rules let the largest party make the first try at forming a coalition—but there is nothing that prevents its rival from trying to reach agreement with enough other parties to make that first try fail
Is the excitement over a purely symbolic issue—which coalition can claim to represent the Iraqi people? Is the right to try to assemble a majority coalition first that valuable? Or am I missing something?