Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Still Too Close to Call

The Iraqi Elections were on March 7th. Today it is March 16th and the results are still too close to call. I am sure the Iraqis have more regularly updated results, but IHEC (Independent High Electoral Commission) indicated that the 85% returns would be forthcoming by March 18th.

In Iraq many people are accusing the government of corruption and electoral fraud in the elections. However, I think the still tight vote count indicate that Iraq will not see a repeat of the massive voter fraud of its Iranian neighbor. Both the Wall Street Journal and Bill Roggio at the Long War Journal have been doing yeoman's work in ensuring that junkies like myself can follow the election.

Prime Minister Maliki' State of Law List is the early vote leader, however, his list is confined to Baghdad and the Shi'a South. Initial results (60%) indicate that Maliki will win a majority in Baghdad and all but three of the Shi'a provinces in the South.

Former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi appears to be the strong candidate across all of Iraq. This is like Wisconsin State elections where the Republican candidate can win across most of the state, but ultimately lose due to the Democratic strength in Dane County (also known as the People's Republic of Dane County). Allawi has won in the Sunni north by overwhelming margins and has even reached double digits in four of the Shi'a provinces to the South (by comparison Maliki is in single digits in every Sunni province except Diyala).

The Iraqi National Alliance (the Iranian list) is a distant third overall and they have reached 50% in only one province. This underlines the overall decline of religious parties (the Sunni Iraqi Islamic Party has been destroyed by Allawi in the Sunni provinces of Ninewa, Salahadin, Diyala, and Anbar), but also a stigma attached to things seen as too Persian (Iranian). One report also indicated that the strongest party in the INA was actually Sadr's bloc, which while perhaps friendly to Iran, is uncompromisingly nationalist.

The unpredictable and close events will likely result in quite a bit of jockeying extending over a few months. Maliki will have to reach out to the INA and the Kurds for an alliance, though he has angered the Kurds as of late and the Sadrists would be loathe to join a Maliki coalition. Allawi would have to reach out to the Kurds (who don't trust his Arab Nationalism) and the INA (though Sadr despises his secularism). If the Sadrists are truly the dominant party in the INA it will make it difficult for the INA to join a coalition involving either Maliki or Allawi due to Sadr's ability to exert control over the alliance.

This is all an indication that Iraq has developed an actual representative democracy, that while imperfect, is a beacon for the entire Arab World and their Persian neighbor.

For an excellent province by province breakdown with percentages follow this link. Though recent reports indicate Allawi has moved into second in Baghdad. The Wall Street Journal also has an updated electoral breakdown here.

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