Key Iraqi Cleric Sadr Takes Substantial Lead in Weekend Vote

Prime Minister Abadi's coalition in third place

Final vote figures aren’t expected for another day or so, but as of Sunday evening, preliminary votes showed a shocking turn in Iraq’s weekend vote. High-profile cleric Moqtada al-Sadr’s Moving Forward bloc has a substantial lead.

Sadr’s parties have at times been meaningful opposition figures, but if the current trend continues Prime Minister Hayder Abadi might fall a distant third place, setting the stage for a dramatic change in the structure of Iraq’s government.

Both Sadr’s bloc and the bloc loyal to Hadi al-Amiri, the head of the Badr Brigade, are the top two right now, with Abadi’s state of law in third. Sadr and Amiri have comparable numbers of provinces, but Sadr’s dominance in Baghdad, with its larger number of seats, may give him the plurality if things continue in this direction.

The turnout in the Saturday vote was lower than expected, at 44.52%. The exact number of seats any blocs are getting, even in provinces where the counting is completed, has not fully been announced, and is unlikely to until later Monday. As with most countries that have such representational systems, the bloc with the plurality gets first crack at trying to secure allies for a majority government.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of