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February 13, 2005
Iraq's Democracy Yields Shared Power

The elections held in Iraq last month have resulted in a parliament where no one faction gained a majority, meaning that a legislative coalition will have to form in order to select the executives of the new Iraqi government. The Iraqi turnout amounted to 8.5 million votes, close to the estimates of 60% that came after the polls closed:

The Shiites likely will have to form a coalition in the 275-member National Assembly with the other top vote-getters the Kurds and Prime Minister Ayad Allawi's list to push through their agenda and select a president and prime minister. The president and two vice presidents must be elected by a two-thirds majority. ...

The Shiite-dominated United Iraqi Alliance ticket received 4,075,295 votes, or about 48 percent of the total cast, Iraqi election officials said. The Kurdistan Alliance, a coalition of two main Kurdish factions, was second with 2,175,551 votes, or 26 percent, and the Iraqi List headed by the U.S.-backed Allawi finished third with 1,168,943 votes, or about 14 percent.

Those three top finishers represent about 88 percent of the total, making them the main power brokers as the assembly chooses national leaders and writes a constitution.

Since the election of the executives will require two-thirds of the parliament, the Sistani slate's 48% won't be nearly enough to forma government. The Shi'ites will need to form a coalition with either the Kurds, or with the Sunnis and some small groups that together took 12% of the votes for the assembly.

The much-feared dominance of the Shi'ites -- which was always overblown -- has been avoided, and the political negotiations will have a salutary effect on interdenominational relations. Look for a Sunni to hold one of the top executive jobs, perhaps even Ayad Allawi again, as a way to encourage national unity and bring the Sunnis into the process.

UPDATE: Allawi isn't a Sunni, he is a secular Shi'ite. Iraqi president Ghazi al-Yawer is a Sunni, one that enthusiastically supported the election, but his slate got less than one percent of the vote, making him an unlikely choice for PM. Still, I'd look to Allawi, whose slate also finished out of the running, to make it back into the executive, although I think a secular Sunni will be PM.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at February 13, 2005 10:23 AM

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» Iraq Election Results from The MUSC Tiger
The votes are officially tallied and the results from Iraq's election are in. A few of the leading parties via the AP: The United Iraqi Alliance (Shiite alliance backed by Shiite Muslim clergy): 4,075,295 The Kurdistan Alliance (coalition of two... [Read More]

Tracked on February 13, 2005 11:42 AM

» The Votes Are In from Polemic Propaganda
And the Iraqis have spoken (Juan Cole is the best resource as of now). As predicted, the Sistani-backed/blessed Shia list were the big winners with 49%, albeit in smaller numbers than some predicted, along with a very strong showing by the two main Kur... [Read More]

Tracked on February 13, 2005 9:05 PM

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