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The Winners and Losers of Iraq’s First National Election

A report about the election results released Sunday from Iraq's first national election held on January 30. The Shiite alliance held the lead with 140 seats, just shy of the 150 seats required for a majority.

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    The word spread through the streets of Iraq that Shiites were the big winners in Iraq's Jan. 30 elections. Shias weren't the only ones celebrating; Kurds had reason to cheer too. Despite making up less than 20 percent of the Iraqi population, they won more than 25 percent of the overall vote.

    Some 8.5 million Iraqis went to the polls, about 58 percent of registered voters. They chose from a list of 111 slates on the ballot. The percentage vote each slate received will now be assigned to the 225 seats on the transitional national assembly, which must be seated before March 1.

    After two weeks of ballot counting, delayed by allegations of vote-tampering, this is the breakdown of the vote-getters. The United Iraqi Alliance, widely identified with the leading Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, won 48.2 percent of the vote, about 140 seats. And the Kurdistan Alliance received 25.7 percent, or 70 seats. It's a combination of the two main Kurdish political parties, headed by Massoud Barzani and Jalal Talabani.

    Coming in a disappointing third, with an estimated 40 seats and 13.8 percent of the vote, the Iraqi list, headed by interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi. Iraqiyun, a Sunni party led by current interim President Ghazi Al-Yawer, won less than 2 percent of the vote, but that's enough to get a handful of assembly seats.

    While turnout was as high as 92 percent in northern Kurdish areas and 75 percent in southern Shiite areas, those numbers were a far cry from the low turnout in Sunni- populated areas. In the western Al-Anbar Province, turnout was only 2 percent. Residents cited violence and intimidation as reasons to stay away. Sunni candidate Adnan Pachachi:


    These elections were not inclusive enough. Many millions of Iraqis were disenfranchised really. And therefore something has to rectify that.


    The election results will be officially certified later this week, as long as they're not challenged in the interim. Meanwhile, bargaining for leadership positions goes on.

    The top candidate for president: Jalal Talabani, the co-leader of the Kurdish alliance. Among the leading contenders for prime minister are Adil Abdul Mahdi, a Shiite and the current finance minister, and Ibrahim al-Jaafari, head of the Dawa Party.

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