Leftist-Sadrist alliance: social movements and strategic politics in Iraq
Robin, Benedict Nicholas
This thesis explores the formation of the leftist-Sadrist alliance that won Iraq’s May 2018 national elections. It argues that this cross-ideological social movement coalition was neither a case of two groups always primed for cooperation because of their shared social bases and political perspectives; nor was it merely an instrumental coalition negotiated between a narrow range of political elites. Rather, the alliance points to transformations in both the social and ideological structures of the two movements, and in the social contexts in which their strategic politics has been formed. This thesis uses a practice-based approach inspired by the sociology of Pierre Bourdieu to unpack these transformations. It uncovers forms of social struggle on cultural terrain, popular politics, intra-movement cleavages and systemic social crises and their effects in transforming the political strategies of these social movements. The outcome of this research is a new understanding of Iraq’s secular-leftist politics and the Sadr movement. These groups are shown to be both more ideologically heterogeneous, and their strategic politics more internally contested, than has hitherto been recognised.