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.
End/ (Not Continued)