Abstract: The aim of this brief is to answer the following question: What does the contentious government formation process mean for the future of the Iraqi state and the nature of its politics? Through explaining the drivers influencing the government formation process, we believe we can predict the most likely scenario for the shape of the next Iraqi government. Namely, we argue that divisions plaguing the country’s political forces are not only influencing the formulation of the new government, as emphasized in current debates, but also impact the type of ‘state’ Iraq will have in the future. On May 12, 2018, Iraq held its fourth parliamentary election since the beginning of the 2003 Occupation. In all previous elections, pre-election alliance-forming and post-election coalition-building processes were predictable given the confessional nature of Iraq’s political system. Essentially, this system centered on a consensual power-sharing arrangement among the country’s three ethno-sectarian groups: the Shia, the Sunnis and the Kurds. According to this informal system of power-sharing in Iraq, the Prime Minister’s post is held by the Shia, a Sunni is speaker of parliament, and a Kurd holds the presidency. Though many believed that this election would be ’cross-sectarian’, the 2018 elections have not altered this trend. The patent lack of state capacity to secure electoral credibility has introduced new uncertainties, exacerbating Iraq’s existing vulnerabilities to foreign interference and civil war.