Poll verdict shows Iraqis don’t want all power with one party

The Dawa Party of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Kamal al-Maliki was the overwhelming winner of Iraq’s provincial elections,the first official results show.

Written by New York Times | Baghdad | Published: February 7, 2009 11:29:54 pm

The Dawa Party of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Kamal al-Maliki was the overwhelming winner of Iraq’s provincial elections,the first official results show. But while candidates in the slate backed by Dawa garnered the most votes of any party in nine of Iraq’s provinces,the party fell short of being able to operate without coalition-building. The initial results reflect a vast majority,but not all,of the votes.

The election outcome conveyed a dual message — many Iraqis want a strong Central Government,rather than one where regions hold more power than the Centre,but they do not want all the power in the hands of one party.

“We don’t seek to rule alone or marginalise anyone,” said Hassan Sinead,a Member of Parliament who is in the Dawa Party and an ally of Maliki. “On the contrary,we are open to the other parties… because we don’t believe in the dictatorship of the regions or any other kind,because we are not dictators.”

Some politicians have voiced concerns in recent months that too much power was being concentrated in Maliki’s hands,and the election results suggested that Iraqis were not ready to rally around a single leader.

Maliki’s party won a clear plurality in the large provinces of Baghdad and Basra,both places where the Prime Minister waged military campaigns last year to halt the activities of mostly Shi’ite militias.

Tensions between Arabs and Kurds were largely unresolved by the election. In Nineveh,the Kurds have had an overwhelming majority on the provincial council although they are a minority in the province,because most Arabs sat out the last election. This time,a new Arab nationalist party,Al Hadba,took 48.4 per cent,by far the largest share of the votes.

Much like Maliki’s Dawa Party,other parties that won seats in the Shi’ite south were Islamist but also nationalist. They include the parties backed by the anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr,which did surprisingly well,given that his movement decided to support them only two weeks before the elections.

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