Ballots Counted

With the Iraqi ballots counted and the results released, things look good. Sistani's list did well, but not well enough to act like democratically-elected dictators. They'll probably need to forge good relations with the Kurds, whose second place finish is karmically positive (after the endless oppression they've undergone, they deserve some power) and politically advantageous. As a secular minority group, it's to their interest to forge alliances and demand protection for secular minority groups, which is good for Sunni-Shia relations. That Sunnis did so badly as to not even be given their own spot on the vote totals is an obviously awful indicator, and one I'll say more about in a moment. Allawi and his list came in third, which means, if nothing else, that Americans did not fix or drastically affect the election. Not that I thought we would, but a better than expected showing for Iyad and his crew would've been very dangerous in the hands of anti-American demagogues. For Iraq's new government to be considered legitimate, it needs to be totally devoid of America's taint.

For better wrap-ups than mine, I suggest Cliff May (seriously), Brad Plumer, Matthew Yglesias (and, less pessimistically, here), and Kevin Drum. On Drum's "wherefore the Sunni results" question, I have a sneaking suspicion that the Sunni's were grouped in with "other" because their vote total was so stunningly, absurdly low that releasing the numbers would make the vote look illegitimate, anger the Sunnis (though it's their fault) and undermine the "yay democracy!" spin circling through the media.

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