Iraq Election Results
The final count is lower than the initial estimates, which is quite understandable given the difficulties of polling and the like, but the breakdown is somewhat of a surprise:
A coalition of largely Shiite parties tacitly backed by the country’s most influential religious leader won the largest number of votes in election results released Sunday, but fell short of the majority that many of its leaders had expected.
The results culminated Iraq’s Jan. 30 elections for a 275-member National Assembly, or parliament, the country’s first free vote in more than a half-century. The final tally had been expected last week but was delayed because of what officials said was a need to ensure its accuracy.
According to the returns, which still must be certified, the coalition known as the United Iraqi Alliance won 47.6 percent of the vote, the low end of what its officials had predicted. A coalition of two main Kurdish parties won 25.4 percent of the vote, and a bloc led by interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi got 13.6 percent.
Together, the three coalitions accounted for nearly 87 percent of the vote, making them the central players in the new National Assembly, which will choose a president and two deputy presidents. They, in turn, will appoint a prime minister, who will choose a cabinet. The new government will be subject to confirmation by the assembly, which will also be charged with writing a new Iraqi constitution.
The negotiations over the top governmental positions began long before the vote was even counted, but the final percentages are crucial in determining the clout each coalition will carry into the negotiations. Many of the key decisions by the new assembly will require a two-thirds vote.
The Iraqi election commission, which announced the results inside the capital’s heavily guarded Green Zone, said overall turnout was 8.55 million votes, which was about 58 percent of those registered to take part. That was a little less than the 60 percent that election officials had predicted soon after the election took place.
Here’s the allocation:
[T]hose numbers would give the UIA about 130 seats on Iraq’s 275-seat National Assembly, the Kurds about 70 seats, and the Iraqi list about 40 seats.
The results suggest the Shiite alliance can only succeed in the assembly by partnering with other party members, The Associated Press reported.
A party must receive 31,093 votes to win a seat on the assembly. One hundred eleven parties vied for seats in the vote.
With coalition-building inevitable, political jockeying intensifies:
The United Iraqi Alliance insists that one of its candidates Ã¢€” probably current Finance Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi or Vice President Ibrahim Jaafari Ã¢€” be appointed prime minister.
The Kurds want their candidate, Jalal Talabani, to be president or prime minister. Under one scenario, the two blocs could do a deal with a Shi’ite candidate getting the prime minister’s job and Talabani the presidency.
But Allawi, who visited Kurdistan on Saturday and met Talabani, may also try to form alliances to improve his chances. If he can make a deal with the Kurds and persuade some of the Shi’ite alliance to break away, he may be able to keep his job.
In the aftermath, two major questions arise. First, is the Shiite failure to reach 50% a sign of encouragement for Iraq’s overall political health, since it could force partnerships and give minority groups a bigger voice? Second, exactly how many votes did the Sunnis receive, and will this result prove sufficient enough to keep them invested in the constitutional process?