Iraq’s election results
Anthony Shadid and Doug Struck provide a summary of Iraq’s election returns in the Washington Post. The highlights: A coalition dominated by Shiite Islamic parties and tacitly backed by the country’s most influential religious leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, won the most votes in results released Sunday from Iraq’s landmark elections, but fell short of ...
Anthony Shadid and Doug Struck provide a summary of Iraq's election returns in the Washington Post. The highlights:
Anthony Shadid and Doug Struck provide a summary of Iraq’s election returns in the Washington Post. The highlights:
A coalition dominated by Shiite Islamic parties and tacitly backed by the country’s most influential religious leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, won the most votes in results released Sunday from Iraq’s landmark elections, but fell short of a symbolically important majority that many of its leaders had projected. The results, expected last week but delayed because of allegations of vote-tampering, were the culmination of Iraq’s Jan. 30 vote for a 275-member parliament, the country’s first democratic ballot in more than a half-century and one of the freest in the Arab world. The results represented one of the most sweeping statements of Iraq’s shifting political terrain, as the country’s long-repressed communities are set to assume power in the National Assembly, which will have to confront a durable, Sunni Arab-led insurgency, persistent power cuts, widespread joblessness and the task of drafting a constitution, among other challenges…. According to the returns, which are considered preliminary until they are certified in three days, the largely Shiite coalition known as the United Iraqi Alliance won 48.2 percent of the vote, the low end of what its officials had predicted. A coalition of two major Kurdish parties won a surprising 25.7 percent of the vote, and a bloc led by interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi got 13.8 percent. Together, the three coalitions accounted for nearly 88 percent of the vote, making them the dominant players in a new parliament, which will choose a largely ceremonial president and two deputy presidents. They, in turn, will appoint a powerful prime minister, who will choose a cabinet…. As expected, Sunni Arab-led parties won just a fraction of the vote. The Association of Muslim Scholars and other influential Sunni groups had declared a boycott of the election, deeming it illegitimate as long as U.S. troops occupied Iraq, and many in Sunni-dominated provinces said they stayed home because of pervasive threats against candidates and voters. A party led by Iraq’s interim president, Ghazi Yawar, won less than 2 percent of the vote, although that was enough to assure his list a handful of seats. A prominent Sunni politician, Adnan Pachachi, did not win a seat, and it remained unclear whether other well-known Sunni figures, such as Mishan Jubouri, had sufficient votes to win a seat. “The Association of Muslim Scholars is responsible for the catastrophic results,” Jubouri said. The election commission said 8.55 million votes were cast; about 14.66 million people were registered to take part in the election. The 58 percent turnout fell short of the 60 percent that officials had predicted soon after the vote.
Jeff Weintraub, analyzing the results, suggests that “On first impression, the latest news about the Iraqi election returns has confirmed my most optimistic hopes.” Juan Cole, looking at the same numbers, concludes, “[current Prime Minister Iyad] Allawi’s defeat… is a huge defeat for the Bush administration, though it will not be reported that way in the corporate media.” UPDATE: Robin Wright has an odd news analysis piece in the Washington Post today. It’s odd becuse the headline reads, “Iraq Winners Allied With Iran Are the Opposite of U.S. Vision” — and the piece consists of expert quotes (including Cole) making this point. However, in the 16th paragraph there’s this casual admission that, “U.S. and regional analysts agree that Iraq is not likely to become an Iranian surrogate.” I’ll have more to say about the question of Iran’s influence in Iraq sometime this week. Meanwhile, Weintraub e-mails the following:
[W]hat [Cole] says in this particular quotation is not incompatible with what I said. Holding the elections now was not the preferred outcome for the Bush administration, and the results of the election are probably not their preferred outcome, either. But as one Iraqi put it (addressing people whose positions on Iraq are simply a function of whether they like or hate the Bush administration): “It’s not all about you.” Also, the fact that some people in the US government would have preferred to see a victory for the Allawi list–which is plausible–doesn’t necessarily mean that, in objective terms, this would actually have been the best outcome for long-term US interests in Iraq.
ANOTHER UPDATE: It’s intriguing to compare the New York Times news analysis by Dexter Filkins with Wright’s analysis in the Washington Post. Filkins’ analysis differs from Wright’s in two ways: a) no expert quotes from American sources (though plenty of quotes from Iraqis); and b) a more optimistic piece. The highlights:
The razor-thin margin apparently captured by the Shiite alliance here in election results announced Sunday seems almost certain to enshrine a weak government that will be unable to push through sweeping changes, like granting Islam a central role in the new Iraqi state. The verdict handed down by Iraqi voters in the Jan. 30 election appeared to be a divided one, with the Shiite political alliance, backed by the clerical leadership in Najaf, opposed in nearly equal measure by an array of mostly secular minority parties. According to Iraqi leaders here, the fractured mandate almost certainly heralds a long round of negotiating, in which the Shiite alliance will have to strike deals with parties run by the Kurds and others, most of which are secular and broadly opposed to an enhanced role for Islam or an overbearing Shiite government…. [S]ome Iraqi leaders predicted Sunday that the Shiite alliance would try to form a “national unity government,” containing Kurdish and Sunni leaders, as well as secular Shiites, possibly including the current prime minister, Ayad Allawi. Such a leadership would all but ensure that no decisions would be taken without a broad national consensus. One senior Iraqi official, a non-Shiite who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the slim majority won by the Shiite alliance signaled even greater obstacles for the Shiite parties in the future. If the Sunni Arabs, who largely boycotted the election, decide to take part in the future, they would almost certainly dilute the Shiite alliance’s already thin margin. “This is the height of the Shiite vote,” the Iraqi official said. “The next election assumes Sunni participation, and you will see an entirely different dynamic then.”
See this James Joyner post for more.
Daniel W. Drezner is a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and co-host of the Space the Nation podcast. Twitter: @dandrezner
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