The Iraqi elections commission IHEC today released the final results of the provincial elections on 20 April. The seat distribution, presented below with figures from 2009 in parentheses, largely confirms the picture that emerged from initial results.
Among the Shiite Islamist parties, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has lost some seats in some governorates but is still the biggest seat winner, with particularly strong positions in the governorate councils of Baghdad and Basra. Despite internal splits, ISCI has done a moderate comeback in several governorates. The Sadrists won back Maysan but otherwise are not making big advances; in Najaf, a local list is the biggest winner, exactly as in 2009. It is noteworthy that the Shiite parties that ran together in Diyala managed to emerge as the biggest winner with 12 seats; this will certainly be seen by some as an indication of increased sectarian polarization.
With respect to parties associated with Sunni-majority areas, it is noteworthy that the Mutahiddun list headed by the Nujayfi brothers has emerged as the most formidable force nationwide, with more votes than competitors like Salah al-Mutlak and including a very respectable result in Baghdad. In Salahaddin, a local Sunni list emerged as the biggest winner, whereas in Diyala forces associated with Nujayfi and Mutlak joined together, though without beating the pan-Shiite list.
The traditional secular parties have fared poorly. Especially noteworthy is the decline of the Iraqiyya list of Ayyad Allawi, which has now only 2 seats south of Baghdad (Basra and Babel), and which was eclipsed by parties with more pronounced Sunni profiles north of Basra. Similarly, none of the breakaway parties from the Iraqiyya coalition such as Free Iraqiyya or White has achieved particularly good results. Similar to the various alliances associated with the Iraqi communist movement, these parties are reduced to isolated seats in a small number of governorates.
It seems worth mentioning that the Kurds lost a few seats in the two governorates where they competed (Salahaddin and Diyala).
The process of forming coalitions and new local governments now begins. In 2009, this lasted 3 months in total. However, in some governorates negotiations are already underway, with parties in Basra even holding press conferences for the announcement of coalitions and job distributions before the official result was ready! In Shiite-majority provinces, a key question is whether Maliki will this time turn to ISCI rather than to Sadrists as his main partner; in Diyala, there is the possibility that the pan-Shiite list may try to circumvent the biggest Sunni parties to build alliances with the Kurds and smaller Sunni parties. Whichever strategies are chosen, the effects on Iraqi political dynamics are likely to be huge – at the heated national scene as well as in places where the local elections were postponed (Anbar and Nineveh).