03/09/2010, 00.00
IRAQ
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The Shiite al-Maliki is ahead, but the secular Allawi is also going strong

by Layla Yousif Rahema
The outgoing premier dominates in Baghdad and the south; Allawi is 70-90% in the north and west. Turnout of 62%. Difficulties in forming a new government.

Baghdad (AsiaNews) - On the second day of counting ballots, the outgoing Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki seems to be the favorite and his supporters are already claiming victory. "We are confident of going to government," said one of the leaders of the Alliance for the Rule of Law, Khaled al-Asadi. Commenting on the unofficial results that are circulating in different constituencies in the country the parliamentarian, who heads al-Maliki’s party, said he was confident of victory. He adds: "The Constitution provides that the most voted party has the task of forming a government and appointing the new prime minister and that is what we will do. From the results we collected at a local level it is evident that the party Iyad Allawi (the former premier – see Photo - and leading of Iraqiya, a party thatgroups together Shiite and Sunni) is the second, but by a large margin".

Pending the official results yesterday the turnout was announced: 62%, higher than the provincial elections in January 2009 (51%), but lower than the general election of December 2005, when the turnout hit 79.63 %.  

Unofficial sources report al-Maliki’s camp to be leading in Baghdad and the Shiite majority southern: 9 of 18 provinces in all, while Allawi is said to have received more support in the (mainly Arab) provinces in the north and those of the west, where his party is said to have taken between 70 and 90% of the votes. Results from the three provinces that make up the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan are as of yet unknown, where the duopoly of the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Massoud Barzani, president of the region, and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, could be undermined by Goran, the new opposition movement that ran alone.

 Maliki's coalition does not rule out being able to go to the government without having to sign alliances with many other parties. But due to the fragmentation of Iraqi politics it seems rather unlikely that any single party will gain the needed seats (163) to form the executive. Beyond the result, therefore, the most realistic scenario is that of a coalition government.

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