Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's State Law Coalition won the most seats in Iraq's parlimentary election last month, according to preliminary results, likely handing him a third term in office but also pressuring him to cut deals with rivals.
Al-Maliki's State Law Coalition won 92 seats out of the 328 seats in the Council of Representatives. The National Iraqi Alliance, a Shia bloc, won 159 seats, five short of a majoirty. This bloc includes State of Law, Al Ahrar, Muwatin, Fadhila and the National Reform Trend. Mutahidoon and Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, Sunni blocs, and Al-Ahrar, a Shia bloc, won 28 seats. State of Law won 30 seats in Baghdad alone, and came in first in 10 provinces.
The election, which took place April 30, was the first since most American troops left the country in 2010. Around 9,040 candidates vied for 328 parliamentary seats. If the votes are confirmed in the coming weeks, the win would give Al-Maliki his third term as prime minister.
The political issues that dominated his time in office so far will likely remain the same going forward. Since taking office in 2006, Al-Maliki has tried to stave off an increasingly violent al-Qaeda led insurgency in Anbar Province--the epicenter of Iraq's Sunni minority resistance. Al-Maliki, a Shia, leads a Shiite-dominated government. Over the past 8 years in an attempt to consolidate his power, Maliki moved several key government offices under the direction of the prime minister's office.
"Prior to the elections, Maliki said that he wanted a government that was democratic. But he didn’t want to abide by that. He wanted a majoritarian government," Judith Yaphe, professor at George Washington's Elliot School of International Affairs, said. "The fact hat he won but not nearly as well as he thought he would he is going to drive post election coalition deals. These will temper his actions of moving toward consolidating his power."
Maliki will have to cut deals with rival political parties in the weeks following the final results to gain support for his fight against insurgents in Anbar and Falluja, Yahpe said. The insurgents in the Sunni-dominated areas are well armed and have carried out attacks not only in their respective regions, but also in Baghdad. According to Iraq Body Count, a private organization that maintains the world’s largest public database of violent civilian deaths since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, 116 civilians were killed by government forces in Anbar Province in April alone.
Final results are expected to be released in the coming weeks after the electoral commission investigates complaints about voter fraud.