Allawi takes slim lead in Iraq election


Click chart to view the distribution of seats among Iraq’s major parties, based on the uncertified election results, 100 percent counted. Source: “The Uncertified Election Results: Allawi Comes Out on Top ,”

With 100 percent of the votes counted, former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi’s secular Iraqi National Movement (Iraqiya) party has taken a slim two-seat lead (91 seats) in the parliament race over Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki’s State of Law Coalition (89 seats). The Iraqi National Alliance, which is made up of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, Ahmed Chalabi, and the Sadrists, took third place with 70 seats; and the Kurdish Alliance came in fourth with 43 seats.

Prime Minister Maliki’s party is unhappy with the results and may officially contest the election. The Independent High Election Commission has stated, however, that the election is fair and that a manual recount will not take place. Maliki may still attempt to form a government “due to a ruling by the federal supreme court yesterday which explicitly makes it clear that the key definition of ‘the largest bloc in parliament’ (which is supposed to form the next government) can also include post-election bloc formation,” according to Iraq expert Reidar Visser.

Visser also explains the mechanics of how the formation of the next government will occur:

The new president, in turn, is to be elected within 30 days of the first parliamentary meeting. The constitution stipulates an aspiration of a two thirds majority for the election of the president but allows for a simple-majority run-off in case that requirement should prove elusive. This in turn means that it is the 163 mark that needs to be met in order to secure the election of the president and thereby get the government-formation process on track in earnest, with a deadline of another fifteen days for the president to formally charge the nominee of the biggest parliamentary bloc to form a government within another thirty days. In other words, if certification takes place around 1 April, a meeting of the new parliament must be held within 15 April, a new president must be elected within 15 May, a PM nominee must be identified by 1 June, and a new cabinet must be presented for approval by parliament before 1 July.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.



  • Iraq has now become an official battle ground for Iranian and Saudi influence.
    Saudi influence on Allawi’s party, including the likely heavy financing of the party’s election campaign is notable.
    All off this means that Iraq will slowly drift away from democracy and secularism into sectarianism and Islamism. The valor of American military, our wealth and blood would have been wasted.
    Not knowing any better, we are now set to repeat the same in Af-Pak.
    Compulsion by failure is turning the war of occupation into a war of ideas.
    Modernism vs. Islamism.
    Better late than never.

  • Neo says:

    Reidar Visser has another essential article on the breakdown of seats within the INA.
    Sadr’s people will control around 34 seats. The ISCI controls only 16.
    The ISCI seems to have walked off a cliff.

  • Lorenz Gude says:

    Although I think the election can be seen as the two sponsors of Islamism struggling for control of the country I think M. Muthuswamy may be too gloomy. I think there is considerable evidence that Maliki is not simply an Iranian client. I was convinced when he led the charge against the Sadrists and Iranians in Basra and Sadr City. And even though Sadr is a radical by nature he started as a strong Iraqi nationalist. Grand Ayatollah Sistani certainly represents traditional Shiites and is a force for moderation. He is consulted by both Miliki and Sadr. So I think there is considerable will for Iraq to go its own way and not be anyone’s puppet. Among the people there seems to me to be clear evidence that they want some form of modernism – as do the Iranian people for that matter. I don’t think the Afghans have ever really had a chance to develop a taste for modernism which is why I never saw the war in that country as the better war.

  • Mr. Gude
    Whatever chance Iraq now has is due to the legacy of Saddam Hussein. His philosophy and brute force ensured that political Islam (read — mosque and clergy) was kept in check.
    While America liberated Iraq from Saddam, instead of emphasizing modernism, it created space for political Islamists to grow.
    Any democracy that doesn’t understand how attributes of Islam drive a Muslim population toward jihad and sharia is ripe for an Islamist takeover of the Muslim populations.
    There is no exception to the above rule — even in non-Muslim majority nations (Britain, India, and now, the U.S.).
    Unless modernism (emphasis of secularism and undercutting of mosque and clerics) is emphasized from school level onwards, Iraq doesn’t stand a chance. Moreover, Political Islam in Iraq may be too powerful to allow that to happen.

  • T Ruth says:

    Thank you for putting things in perspective. This is what is missing: a real understanding of the “BIG picture” and then keeping it in constant view.
    Modernism/democracy and Islam do not go hand-in-hand. The day they actually do, IF they ever do, the world will look a very different place.
    The opportunity lies in the creation of a new world order that brings together the US and Europe together with China, Russia, India and others.
    Seems to me that at the present time nations that are like minded on the issue of political Islam are not working together, even at that level. So an extraordianary amount of energy, human lives and money is going to waste.

  • Zeissa says:

    Eh, many clever thoughts there Muthuswamy (especially that Islam is (mostly) anti-democratic or at least anti-civil rights (especially for Kafirs)), but considering the proper Islamist-brand block got cut in half I think you would be screaming blue murder even if they’d lost ALL votes… simply because two moderates getting cash from the outside are facing off against each other.
    Paranoid much.

  • Zeissa says:

    And yes, control of the schools are important.
    Regardless, interpreting a major victory for secularist forces as a major defeat (on partial grounds) strikes me as… dumb.
    Islamism was close to taking over this country and still stands a good chance of doing so in the future, but you are like a man who sees a thousand candles in the night as products of ye olde darknesse… so they got some money. There’s lots of backers out there. It means something, but not everything.

  • Cordell says:

    Modern democracy prevails over religious authoritarianism among a well educated population that earns its livelihood through its intellect. Not surprisingly, the greatest challenge to Iranian theocracy comes from its universities. Conversely, its inefficient, corrupt regime would likely be overthrown but for its oil revenues that finance the requisite payoffs to the Revolutionary Guard and its allied supporters.
    The most modern country in the Persian Gulf is Dubai simply because the country has little oil or natural gas and must therefore depend on trade, finance and tourism for its income. Its close interaction with non-Muslims in this commerce forces tolerance. Where else in the Gulf will one find women wearing bikinis rather than burkas? This dependency on trade and finance also focuses the government’s attention on educating its population according to Western traditions in liberal arts and sciences. The little oil that Dubai has serves only to finance the necessary infrastructure, paving the way for rapid development in other areas of commerce.
    Thanks to Saddam, Iraq enjoys a relatively well educated, secular population — or at least has a sufficiently large core group of intellectuals and technocrats that biases future development towards secular modernism and democracy. Meanwhile, AQI and Sadr’s militias, as well as Iran’s example, have discredited Islamic extremism for all but a hardcore fringe. While the recent parliamentary elections highlight Iraq’s religious and ethnic divisions, the more secular and modern candidates were the overwhelming winners. Billboards showing an attractive young female candidate in modern attire that caused Baghdad traffic jams this year will become so commonplace that they will provoke only passing glances in future contests.
    Moreover, while many Iraqis want a strong leader, thanks to Saddam too they will not sit idle should a populist using the Chavez playbook arise and slowly transform the nascent democracy into a dictatorship. The bad memories of life under Suddam’s dictatorship are too fresh. And while Iraq’s oil revenues pose a corrupting influence that can frustrate and disgust voters, they also serve to finance the needed infrastructure to further modernize the country. Hopefully, this money will buy sufficient political stability to facilitate Iraq’s economic development. In so doing, it will further strengthen modern democracy’s now admittedly tenuous hold on the country.

  • Generally, excellent observations, Cordell.
    I will just say this.
    One can’t take for granted what you have said: “Modern democracy prevails over religious authoritarianism among a well educated population that earns its livelihood through its intellect.”
    Fairly well-educated Turkey is getting increasingly islamized, which means over time it will lose democracy, wealth and its future.
    World over, Muslim communities in developed democracies (in Europe) are increasingly embracing Islamism.
    I will say this again. To avoid the Islamist trap, the key is to understand how certain attributes of Islam, through mosque and clerics, undermine modernism.
    As you have said, the educated younger generation of Iranians understand this, so do many Iraqis.
    Among the prominent who do NOT understand:
    Western political and military leaderships, media and academics specializing in political science.
    No wonder, we have no clue how to successfully wage this war.

  • Zeissa says:

    I think Turkey would disagree with that Cordell (though they like civil rights… for themselves).
    Not back to read and answer (just looking over my own answer), just wanted to say I do realize the trade and religious ties are stronger than ‘some money’ but still… not everything.

  • Zeissa says:

    Well, I did mention that it might still win so I guess that goes without saying.
    PS. I’m not sure if the youth of Iran are really anti-Islamic, though I’m sure there’s a strong element of it.

  • Zeissa says:

    Also I’d like to note that strong Islamic empires, both economically and technologically, are very unlikely… but are possible. They have happened in the past despite the corroding or slowing effects of Islam and can happen again.
    For example while the Ottomans took centuries before taking to naval supremacy they did so suddenly (before losing it again a hundred years later).


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