The party led by cleric Moqtada al-Sadr won the most votes in Iraq’s parliamentary elections, according to preliminary results released Monday. Counts based on partial results show the Shia cleric won more than 70 seats in the 329-seat parliament.
Al-Sadr’s party said it had won 73 seats, up from 54, and would wield great influence in forming the government.
News agency Reuters said former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki appeared to have won the next biggest win among Shia parties, according to preliminary results. Shia groups have dominated Iraqi politics since the fall of Saddam Hussein, a Sunni, in 2003.
Sunday’s vote was marred by a record low turnout for parliamentary elections. Iraq’s Election Commission said only 41 percent of voters cast ballots. That’s below the 44.5 percent recorded in 2018, when it was an all-time low previously.
The election was held several months ahead of schedule in response to youth-led protests against corruption and poor public services. The protests drew tens of thousands of people to the streets in late 2019 and early 2020. Demonstrators called for reforms and new elections.
The election result is expected to preserve the country’s traditional political bloc. However, since no single party has won a majority of seats in parliament, negotiations to choose a prime minister to lead the government are expected to take weeks or even months. [lt/ka]