Abadi’s Rivals Surge in Iraq Vote

Abadi’s Rivals Surge in Iraq VoteAbadi’s Rivals Surge in Iraq Vote

The race to become Iraq's next prime minister appeared wide open on Monday as two outsider alliances looked to be in the lead after the first elections since the defeat of the self-styled Islamic State terror group.

According to partial official results obtained by AFP, the Marching Toward Reform alliance of Shia cleric Muqtada Sadr and his communist allies was ahead in six of Iraq's 18 provinces and second in four others.

The Conquest Alliance, made up of ex-fighters from paramilitary units that battled IS, was ahead in four provinces and second in eight others.

After a vote on Saturday that saw a record number of abstentions, the Victory Alliance of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi looked to have won in only one province.

>Complex Electoral Arithmetic

The complex electoral arithmetic of the Iraqi system means that the final makeup of the parliament is still far from decided.

Whatever the outcome, there looks set to be lengthy horse-trading between the main political forces before any new premier and government can be installed.

Abadi—who came to power as IS swept across Iraq in 2014—is a consensus figure.

Several senior political figures had previously told AFP that preliminary results put Abadi in the lead, on course to scoop 60 of the 329 parliamentary seats up for grabs.

Turnout was low despite a sharp decrease in violence across the country, with threats from IS against the polls failing to materialize.

The Saturday ballot saw a record low turnout, as only 44.5% of eligible voters headed to the polls in the lowest participation rate since the 2003 US-led ouster of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

Whoever emerges as premier will face the mammoth task of rebuilding a country left shattered by the battle against IS—with donors already pledging $30 billion.

Over two million people remain internally displaced across the country and IS, while weakened, still has the capability to launch deadly attacks.

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