With Vote Stalemate, Fear of Rising Violence in Iraq

Maliki Supporters Warn of Violence Over Close Results

Final election results have since been released and this story is out-of-date. The latest version is available here.

Iraq’s Independent High Electoral Commission is poised to release final election results tomorrow, despite pressure from the State of Law bloc to agree to a manual recount and calls from the Interior Minister to hold off on the results in general.

The result is expected to be a virtual tie between State of Law, the party of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, and the Iraqiya bloc of Ayad Allawi, with a difference of one or two seats.

Whereas the 2005 election ended with a fairly conclusive result, resulting in a broad coalition and comparative unity among the major groups, the Allawi bloc’s growing influence points to a new divisiveness in Iraqi politics, depending on disaffected Sunnis and secular Shi’ites struggling for a voice in the government.

The narrow vote difference is expected to cause considerable problems, and State of Law candidates are warning that Shi’ite expectations for a stronger showing for their bloc could spark outrage and potentially violence, particularly as the coalition negotiations linger on into the weeks and months ahead.

US officials had initially touted this year’s elections as a stabilizing influence, cementing post-invasion Iraq as a democracy. At this point though, with tensions rising and every major bloc claiming fraud, it looks as if the coming months will fuel violence across Iraq and any transfer of power may well prove messy, if it comes at all.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for Antiwar.com. He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.