Maliki ahead in Key Shiite Privinces

Al-Sharq al-Awsat [The Middle East] reports in Arabic that the Independent High Electoral Commission in Iraq has released some information on the performance of the major political coalitions in two southern Shiite provinces, based on a count so far of about a third of the vote.

The big news is that prime minister Nuri al-Maliki’s coalition defeated the alliance of other Shiite religious parties even in the pious provinces of Najaf and Babil. Since Shiites are 60% of the population, if this showing is repeated in Baghdad and in the South, Maliki would be in a good position to remain prime minister. He would likely have the biggest bloc in parliament, and would be asked to form the government.

The other possibility raised by the initial results is that Iyad Allawi’s Iraqiya list is turning into a party for secular Sunnis, the majority in that community. But since Sunni Arabs are perhaps 18% of the population, that base will not carry Allawi into the prime minister’s mansion. Based on these partial results from five provinces, some press reports are putting al-Maliki at 22% of seats and Allawi at 20%. But this closeness is illusory. At the moment, al-Maliki is way ahead if you extrapolate out the Shiite vote.

But al-Sharq al-Awsat says that there are reports that Ahmad Chalabi, the leader of the Iraqi Naitonal Congress and a candidate in the National Iraqi Alliance (which groups the Shiite religious parties) attempted to enter a hall where the electoral commission was counting the votes and was turned away. Likewise, there was allegedly an attempt by a member of the State of Law coalition of al-Maliki to enter false data. The combination of Chalabi’s presence in the building and the continued postponement of the announcement of results based on partial counts of the votes has raised questions in the minds of some as to whether the election results are being tampered with.

WaPo reports some of the preliminary results announced Thursday, based on counts of from 17% to 30% of the votes in 5 provinces. In two southern Shiite provinces, this was the leading party:

Babil: State of Law (Nuri al-Maliki) 42%
Najaf: State of Law 47%

In contrast, the State of Law received 16% in Najaf in the provincial elections of early 2009, and 12.5% in Babil. These religious Shiite populations seem to be forsaking the National Iraqi Alliance of fundamentalist, generally pro-Iran parties.

The Iraqi National Alliance (Shiite fundamentalist parties) came in second in both provinces, with Iyad Allawi’s secular-leaning National Iraqi List coming in third.

In Diyala and Salahuddin, Sunni-majority provinces, Alawi’s National Iraqi List came in first, with al-Maliki trailing.

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3 Responses

  1. The minute Chelabi walked into the vote counting build, his votes should have been nullified.

  2. Regardless of whether the results are tampered with, the fact remains that the deck was stacked by the exclusion of some important candidates. After the Iraqi courts ruled that the exclusion of some candidates was invalid, al-Maliki managed to make the exclusion stand – but how? I'm not clear on the details. I hope Juan will explain.

  3. Results as Sunday 7PM EST

    The IHEC has released election PDF files of 10 provinces on it's website. Perhaps 10% of the national vote is listed. The combined totals and the estimated seat distribution based on Iraqi Electoral Law and the partial totals are as follows.

    State of Law – 345,005 57 Seats

    Iraqi National Movement – 290,724 58 seats

    Iraqi National Alliance – 276,403 48 seats

    Kurdistan Alliance – 130,409 14 seats

    Iraq Unity Coalition 31,150 4 seats

    Iraq Accordance – 30,360 9 seats

    Change – 22,948 2 seats

    Kurdistan Islamic Group – 12,511 1 seat

    Islamic Union of Kurdistan – 11,173 1 seat

    Others 70,085 0 seats

    Total: 1,220,768 194 of 310 regular seats.

    More of the mainly Sunni Provinces are in in than the Shia or Kurd.

    Based on these results the final seat totals may look something like this.

    Rule of Law – Maliki – 90 to 95 Seats

    National Movement – Allawi/Hashimi 80 Seats

    Iraq National Alliance – Hakim/Sadr
    75 to 80 seats

    Kurdistan Alliance – Talabani/Barzani 40 seats

    Small Parties – 75 Seats including 8 religious minority seats

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