The Iraqi elections commission today published far less material than had been expected in the first major release of partial results from the 7 March elections. Only two governorates, Babel and Najaf, were covered.
The released numbers largely tend to confirm the leaks that have circulated so far as far as the relative performance of the big blocs are concerned. Total numbers have not filtered through so far, but assuming that the numbers that circulate in the public domain for the biggest lists reflect the lion’s share of votes, the partial results put Maliki in the lead in Babel with around 41%, followed by the Iraqi National Alliance (INA) with 33% and Iraqiyya third at around 19%. The picture for Najaf is somewhat similar: State of Law, 48%; INA, 42%; Iraqiyya, 8%. All percentages should be adjusted slightly downwards since small parties have been omitted from the statistics released so far.
It is interesting that these figures are pretty much in harmony with the “exit poll” published by the Ayn organisation earlier in the week, which had 41-29-19 in Babel and 49-30-7 in Najaf. They also suggest a far stronger performance by Maliki than could have been expected on the basis of a simulation of January 2009 results adjusted for alliance changes, and also a degree of consolidation for Iraqiyya, albeit on a smaller scale. It is however a cause for concern that IHEC needs to ruminate for so long over the numbers before they are released, with continued uncertainty as to whether more partial results will be released before the weekend.
UPDATE: The release of the results seems to have run into political problems. Iraqi newswire reports late Thursday said IHEC had additionally announced Iraqiyya as the forerunner in Diyala followed by INA; the Kurdistan Alliance followed by Goran in Arbil, and State of Law allegedly ahead in Salahaddin, followed by Iraqiyya and Unity of Iraq. If the latter is correct (only a headline to go by at this stage) it would be quite shocking, since an Iraqiyya lead had been expected even if Maliki has given some support to the sacked IIP governor there lately. Apparently, though, these latter results reflect only 17% of the total votes in the respective governorates (and in the cases of Diyala and Salahaddin thus could be affected by enclave-like features of the local geography).
POSTSCRIPT: Also, in fact late in the night on Thursday IHEC corrected the initial figures and put Iraqiyya in the lead in Salahaddin.