Amidst the low turnout, Iraq’s populist Shi’ite cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr’s party emerged victorious in the Sunday polls, according to initial results.
Based on the initial results, the al-Sadr coalition out of 329 seats has won more than 70 seats compared to 54 during the 2018 elections. Whereas among other Shi’ite parties, the State of Law Coalition led by former Prime Minister of Iraq Nouri al-Maliqi is also estimated to have won more than 30 seats, initial results suggested. However, according to reports none of the parties appeared to have won a majority in parliament.
According to the media reports, during a televised speech on Monday, the Shi’ite cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr said, “We thank God for supporting reform through its biggest bloc which is an Iraqi bloc, neither eastern nor western.”
Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi also took to Twitter and congratulated political forces set to form a new government in Iraq.
“I offer my sincere congratulations to all the sisters and brothers who won the elections, and I also congratulate the political forces that will form the next parliament, which we hope will be a council of work, building, and support for the state,” Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi said.
However, Hadi-al-Ameri a paramilitary leader-led Fatah alliance appeared to have faced a major setback in the Sunday polls. According to the initial results, the party appeared to have lost most ground- hardly managed to secure 14 seats in the Sunday polls compared to 48 in the 2018 elections.
The initial results further showed, some new parties which emerged after the 2019 demonstrations also managed to secure several seats out of 329 seats.
Polls marred by low voter turnout:
Despite the public outcry over the country’s political system, the Sunday parliamentary election in Iraq was marred by low voter turnout, reflecting the dwindling public trust in the country’s political class.
According to Independent High Electoral Commission Iraq, the initial voter turnout during the election was recorded at 41%, the lowest since the US-led invasion that toppled Saddam’s regime. The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq also called the turnout ‘disappointing for many’.
New Election law drafted:
The Sunday voting came in early in response to the 2019 mass protest, where thousands of protestors marched onto the streets demanding the ouster of the then ruling government led by Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahadi and remodeling of the political system. At least 600 people were killed and thousands injured over a period of few months.
Prior to the Sunday polls, a new law was drafted by Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, thereby paving the way for pro-reform independent candidates to contest the polls and loosening the excessive influence of the established political parties. Under the new election law, for the first time, biometric cards were also issued for voters, to avoid voting fraud.
The new parliament will also elect Iraq’s next president.