Based on observing at polling stations across the nation political parties are declaring winners and losers. But there are no real exit polls here.
Based on a series of interviews McClatchy News did across the nation many Iraqis seemed to have cast their ballot for Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki’s Coalition of the State of Law. A large number of Sunni Arabs said they voted for Shiite secularist and ex-Baathist Ayad Allawi. But that’s about as scientific as it gets.
“I am astonished by these political arguments and this escalation by some political parties. Let them wait and be patient,” said Faraj al Haidari the head of the Independent High Electoral Commission. “We have no results.”
Preliminary results aren’t expected until Thursday and final results won’t be available for weeks. But it hasn’t stopped parties from declaring victory.
Already people are battling over fraud and declaring winners and losers. The Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq spent the past few days going back and forth, declaring victory in southern provinces and then calling it unclear. Currently they control most of the southern provinces.
In Anbar tribal fighters flooded the streets on Monday with accusations of fraud against their Sunni rival the Iraqi Islamic Party. Tribal leaders threatened to take revenge if results declared the wrong people the winner i.e. not them.
Maliki’s party is likely right that they’ve taken a high number of seats if not the majority of seats in councils across the country. In Baghdad the campaign manager for the group declared victory.
I could go into a long analysis based on an educated guess.
It seems that most Iraqis turned away from the Islamists they voted for in the past. This year Iraqis could pick specific candidates on a slate. Some said they picked a neighbor, a friend or a cousin. Others tried to pick a person who they thought might give them a few more hours of electricity, long-lasting security and clean water.
Many want someone who will stop foreign influence from Iran, end a foreign occupation and restore sovereignty to a nation whose government so often defers to the United States and Iran before making a decision.
Iraqis also seem to be searching for a strong man, a leader with an iron fist. In the past year Maliki grew into that at the behest of other parties in the government. His office often circumvented security ministries to deal with operations and he took down Basra where Shiite militias ruled as Americans looked on doubtingly.
Of course after he attacked and the militias took to the streets to fight back, American fire power and Iranian negotiations helped him succeed.
Despite Maliki’s role as a Shiite Islamist he’s been able to recast himself as a nationalist in the past year. He’s the only Shiite Islamist with some Sunni support as well as Shiite support. If indeed he has swept positions in provinces across the nation we are likely to see a government that morphs into a very strong central state versus a group of federalist states with a weak central government.
Allawi is also seen as a strong man. The first U.S.-installed Prime Minister of post invasion Iraq is an ex-Baathist with once strong links to the CIA. He supported brutal military incursions in Najaf and Fallujah during his leadership and at the time was seen as a Washington puppet.
But his tough leadership and willingness to crush his enemies now seems to be one of the best options many voters said on Election Day. At least then they’d have security.
With all that said we don’t know who won and who lost. Without results we also don’t know what they could indicate for national elections at the end of this year.
When preliminary results come in we’ll tell you what it means and what the fallout could be.