Juan Cole has a terrific rundown of the results, province-by-province.
He makes clear what most of the media reports are not recognizing: the dominant feature of the outcome was utter fragmentation.
While much of the media narrative seems to be about how well PM Maliki’s Dawa party performed, it is all relative. Only in Baghdad and Basra did it win more than 35% and in several others, while it may have won a plurality, the pro-Maliki votes amount to less than 20%.
As Cole notes, Dawa is a fundamentalist party, but one that is more committed to a strong central government than its main rival for the votes of Shiites, the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI).* These two parties were components of the same pre-electoral alliance in the national elections.
In Baghdad, the pro-Maliki list won 38% and no other party won 9%. In Muthanna, Dawa barely “won,” with 10.9% to ISCI’s 9.3%. The only province with any list close to a majority is Ninevah (Sunni majority) where l-Hadba’ won 48.4% and the Kurdistan Alliance came a distant second with 25.5%.The fragmentation really must be seen in the actual numbers to be believed, so head on over to Cole’s post.
Like many a developing country emerging from civil conflict, voters were more likely to vote for parties tied to sources of patronage and security than not. Thus it is hardly unusual that the PM’s supporters did relatively well–especially as the alliance label they ran under was called Enforcement of Law. Maybe the surprise is how poorly they did, by absolute standards, coming in nowhere even near a majority.
In most provinces, multiparty coalitions will be needed in order to form a government, so while Enforcement of Law will be the largest in many places, it will have to bargain extensively with all sorts of other political forces. (Not that that’s a bad thing, but it sure is not the “big win” I keep hearing about.)
*Surprise! Dawa is the party that currently heads the central government.