The Sunni/Shiite alliance of former Iraqi prime minister Ayad Allawi has won a narrow victory in parliamentary elections. A victory for Allawi, a secularist and a pragmatist who enjoyed American support during the early years of post-Saddam Iraq, could nevertheless threatens a resurgence in violence among the Shiites who back sitting prime minister Nouri al-Maliki.
The Wall Street Journal reports:
The preliminary results announced Friday night show Mr. Allawi’s Iraqiya bloc winning 91 seats in the 325-member parliament to 89 seats for Mr. Maliki’s State of Law.
In a hastily convened press conference, the prime minister announced he would press for a recount, citing suspicions of fraud.
However, the prime minister said that he would follow the legal procedures in place to contest the vote count and urged his followers to respect Iraq’s stability.
According to the Iraqi electoral process, candidates have a three-day period to lodge complaints. After that, the Supreme Court ratifies the results.
The political list with the largest number of seats will have the first shot at forming a coalition government. These negotiations are widely expected to take several weeks, while various alliances cut deals over ministerial portfolios and contentious issues such as which ethnic group will be awarded the country’s ceremonial presidency.