Close Race Makes Challenges Likely

Early vote tallies indicate the coalition of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al Maliki will likely win a plurality in the country’s incredibly close election. The narrow margins expected will set the stage for challenges to the results for weeks to come; a Shia coalition is already questioning voting machines and the transparency of the vote counting. Ahmed Chalabi demanded that all candidates hear the results before they are announced publicly so they have a chance to address and irregularities. (Chalabi’s coalition is behind in the polls.) Ayad Alawi, leader of a secular Shia coalition, looked to be coming in second. Kurdish parties will probably hold on to their current number of seats. The winning party is unlikely to have a clear majority in the parliament, and thus will have to create a larger coalition to elect a prime minister. “Whatever the end results, we know it will be a fierce struggle to form a government,” an American official said.