Iraqis saw a relatively high turnout among voters today, after a morning of violence gave way to a comparatively calm afternoon. Though the voting was of symbolic significance, and was seized upon by US officials as a great achievement, even the most preliminary of results won’t be released for several days and the results aren’t expected to be particularly significant at any rate.
Right now, Iraq is in the calm before the storm, as the three major Shi’ite blocs wait to learn how many seats they have and can begin in earnest trying to collect enough seats from Kurds and other independent factions to form a government.
Exit polling data, to the extent it is available at all, has suggested the State of Law faction did quite well in the southern Shi’ite cities while Ayad Allawi’s secularist bloc also claimed to have done better than expected, chiefly among Sunni voters. In the end, none of the blocs is expected to gain anywhere near enough seats to form a government without a lot of help.
Which of Iraqiya, State of Law, or the INA finish in first, second and third place among voters will likely have only marginal impact on their ability to form a government, and it will be the results of the smaller blocs and which are most amenable to the majors that will likely impact who forms the government.
To that end, another x-factor in the election picture is the claim that Goran, an opposition Kurdish bloc, has netted 20 seats, a significant portion of the Kurdistan representation. Kurdistan’s influence in the past election was disproportional, thanks to its ability to form a major unified bloc to offer to the other parties in forming a government. If Goran really tears a significant chunk off the DPAK bloc’s representation it could reduce their ability to demand major concessions from the Shi’ite blocs.
US officials have expressed serious concern that the long period between the election and forming the government will lead to a massive increase in violence, imperiling the US pullout. It is expected to take months before the new government is formed.