The final results from the 2010 Iraq election are almost in, and the conclusion is very reassuring — the winner is, by just a few seats, Iraqiyya, or the Iraqi National Movement, the “list” led by former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi. Allawi only has a slight plurality of votes, and is nowhere close to holding a majority of seats. He now looks to form a government with the other parties to create a government.
Why is this a good thing? Allawi is a Shia but campaigned on a nationalist, secularist platform, and was the favorite candidate of the Sunnis and many secular Shia. He came in with a few seats more than the State of Law alliance led by incumbent prime minister Nouri al-Maliki, a “law and order” list with Shia Islamist instincts. These two parties were followed by the National Iraqi Alliance, a primarily Shia Islamist Group, and then the Kurdistan Alliance, which dominates the northern provinces but has little support elsewhere.
Why are Iraqqiya, State of Law, and National Iraqi Alliance described as “lists”? These actually aren’t political parties but rosters of united political parties, candidates, movements and other groups that form coalitions for each election. The constituents of these lists have changed for each election. In the 2010 national election, Iraqqiya stayed the most consistent, including a list of Shia and Sunni secular Parties, together with the Iraq Communist Party. Maliki’s State of Law is centered on the Islamic Da’awa Party that he heads, but it also includes minor parties such as the Anbar Salvation National Front, and the United Independent Iraqi Bloc. The National Iraqi Alliance is centered around Shia Islamist parties such as the Badr Organization and Sadrist Movement but also includes a dozen more minor parties. (That’s Iraq’s very, very complicated political party politics summarised in one paragraph.)
Consider also this fun fact — all the three major coalitions include at least one minor Turkmen party, an ethnic minority that makes up about 5% of Iraq’s population. Iraqqiya includes the Iraqi Turkmen Front, the State of Law list includes the Islamic Union of Iraqi Turkoman, while the National Iraqi Alliance has under its wing both the Turkman Islamic Union of Iraq and the Turkmen Loyalty Movement.