Posted February. 03, 2009 08:39,
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has apparently scored a landslide victory in his countrys provincial elections held Saturday.
Al-Maliki`s Coalition of the State of Law is known to have won all nine southern Shiite provinces, as well as Shiite East Baghdad, Reuters said yesterday.
The New York Times also predicted the political status of the prime minister to be further strengthened, reporting that the ruling political parties drew strong support in most provinces.
Al-Maliki, however, is considered unfit to exert administrative control and faces criticism for his failure to keep southern Bagdad secure, as Shiite militants virtually controlled the region and launched rocket attacks toward the fortified Green Zone about a year ago.
In the latest elections, several secular parties also scored significant gains. Experts said secular parties are expected to receive stronger support than expected, while religious parties will face losing their parliamentary seats.
The Times attributed the change in the Iraqi political landscape to the disillusionment of the Iraqi public with religious parties, which remain in power but have failed to deliver the services voters want.
Lawmaker Qassim Daoud said, The public is interested in services and these elections showed that they believe they can change the political arena by democratic means if they are unsatisfied with the current situation.
Voter turnout reached just 51 percent, lower than the initial forecast of 60 percent. The Iraqi electoral commission said 7.5 million of 15 million registered voters cast their ballots, down from 56 percent in the January 2005 elections. It was a record-low since 2003, when the Iraq war broke out.
Poor election management is being blamed for the low voter turnout. Citizens across Iraq complained that they could not vote either because the strict curfew prevented them from reaching polling centers or that their names were not on the voter list.