Tentative Iraqi election results show the Shi'ite religious coalition is leading the polls in Iraq's five southern provinces, while the Kurdish alliance looks set to triumph in the north. On Friday, electoral and party officials said strong results for the conservative Shi'ite United Iraqi Alliance (UIA) were expected in southern Iraq. The UIA might face stiffer competition from secular former premier Ilyad Allawi in urban areas like Baghdad, whose list often scored second in Shiite regions. The UIA includes religious parties like the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution (Sciri) and Iraqi prime minister Ibrahim Jaafari's Dawa party. [...]
News24 via SA: Counting begins after Iraq vote Votes were being counted on Friday after Iraq's legislative election saw a strong turnout with minimal violence. Electoral officials briefly extended Thursday's voting owing to the turnout, which preliminary estimates put at between 60 and 80%, surpassing an October referendum, with Sunni Arabs casting ballots in record numbers.
Daily Yomiuri (Japan) editorial: Iraq poll is a big step toward normal govt Iraq's general election, a major milestone on the road to permanent parliamentary democracy, ended Thursday without any major problems. Though the country still faces a host of challenges, the success of the election to choose a parliament means that Iraq has made another important step toward peace and stability. All the religious and ethnic groups in the country, including Sunni Arabs who boycotted the January election for the provisional Iraqi National Assembly, participated in the election. It is significant that every group in Iraq has now engaged in the political process for the first time. In particular, the participation of Sunnis in the process may help improve the country's security in the future because most of the militants in Iraq are believed to be Sunnis. Through a popular verdict, the first regular government to be created under the new Constitution will be able to claim a strong basis for legitimacy. [...]