Iraq PM's group secures handsome results in provincial polls
Baghdad: A coalition led by Iraq's prime minister has won the largest single bloc of seats in seven of the 12 provinces participating in local elections, and tied in an eighth, although it failed to achieve a majority in any of the districts, electoral officials announced on Saturday.
Last month's vote was for seats on local-level governorate councils and has no direct effect on the country's national posts. But the results do offer an important glimpse into levels of support for the country's political blocs heading into next year's parliamentary elections.
The results released today by members of Iraq's Independent High Electoral Commission at a Baghdad hotel showed little change from preliminary results out last week.
Thousands of candidates from 50 electoral blocs vied for 378 seats on the provincial councils. Election officials reported that 51 per cent of the 13.8 million eligible voters cast ballots the same turnout as during the last provincial elections in 2009.
Crucially, Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's State of Law coalition was the top vote-getter in Baghdad and in the southern oil hub of Basra.
In Baghdad, al-Maliki's coalition took 20 seats of the 58 seats, followed by 11 for Shiite followers of anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. The Sunni parliament speaker Osama al-Nujaifi's bloc trailed them with seven seats.
Al-Maliki's State of Law also won the most seats of any bloc in Diwaniyah, Muthanna, Dhi Qar, Karbala and Babil provinces.
In Wasit province, southeast of Baghdad, State of Law and Shiite rival Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council each took seven seats.
Al-Sadr's bloc took the most seats in the southern Shiite province of Maysan, the only area where it currently holds the governorship.
A provincial-level coalition gained the most seats in the Shiite province of Najaf. Local coalitions also took the largest chunk of seats in the largely Sunni province of Salahuddin and the mixed province of Diyala.
The April 20 election was Iraq's first since the US military withdrawal in late 2011. Only 12 of the country's 18 governorates cast ballots.