Almost three weeks after the Iraqi national election the nation’s Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) finally released the results, with the Iraqiya bloc of former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi scoring a narrow 91-89 victory over current Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s State of Law party.
Allawi’s secularist Iraqiya bloc scored big in Sunni dominated areas, while State of Law won mostly in the Shi’ite areas. The Iraqi National Alliance (INA) of Moqtada al-Sadr finished in third place at 70 seats, while the Kurdistan Alliance, once a dominant player in Iraqi politics, netted 43 seats.
But State of Law supporters have already taken to the streets in protest, and Maliki has refused to accept the result, demanding a full manual recount which could take weeks. The recount has already been repeatedly rejected by IHEC, however.
Assuming the results stand, and all indications now are that they will, Allawi will get the first crack at forming a new government. This will require his bloc to get the support of an additional 72 seats in the parliament, almost certainly requiring him to court the Sadr bloc.
The negotiations for the government is expected to stretch into summer and likely beyond, leaving a relatively powerless caretaker government in charge as tensions rise among the factions, setting the stage for what many fear will be an upsurge of violence.
Already today, just hours before the election results were announced, a major bombing tore through a restaurant in a Sunni marketplace in Diyala Province, killing at least 53 people and wounding over 100 others. It was unclear if the bombing had anything to do with the election, but tensions are visibly on the rise as Maliki supporters cry foul.