Sunday, May 16, 2010

No Change in Iraq’s Election Results After Recount, But It Still Served Its Purpose

Iraq’s Election Commission announced on May 14, 2010 that it had finished its recount of Baghdad province. No major examples of fraud or irregularities were found, only some small individual ones that did not change the ultimate results. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s State of Law list originally demanded the recount process in March after it came in second to Iyad Allawi’s Iraqi National Movement. Allawi’s list won 91 seats, while Maliki won 89. While the hope to gain more seats failed, the recount gave Maliki the time to outmaneuver Allawi.

At first, the Election Commission rebuffed Maliki’s calls for a recount. It said that large scale manipulation of the votes was impossible since the ballots were entered into computers twice by two different teams, and if the counts were outside of a margin of error, the results were re-entered. The Commission eventually gave into political pressure as State of Law began organizing protests throughout Iraq demanding a recount, and Maliki even threatened violence if one wasn’t held. Eventually an election court ordered a recount on April 19 just in Baghdad province. Even though State of Law won the most seats there, 26 compared to the National Movement’s 24, they were hoping a re-tally would give them enough seats to surpass Allawi’s list overall. That would undermine his claim to having the right to form a new government, and the delay in the certification of the election would also give State of Law more time to try to outmaneuver the National Movement. That was seen when Maliki’s list immediately began complaining about how the recount was being conducted in an attempt to drag out the process even more. 

Even though the recount did not change the election results, it did give Maliki time to work out a merger with the Sadrist-Supreme Council led Iraqi National Alliance. That will keep Allawi out of the premiership, and ensure that the Shiite parties will remain in control of the new government. The re-tally thus achieved its ultimate goal of giving State of Law an advantage in putting together a new ruling coalition.

SOURCES

AK News, “Iraqis protest for re-tally,” 3/25/10
- “Iraqiya might call for a re-vote: Allawi,” 4/27/10
- “Karbala province demands manual recounting,” 3/22/10
- “No fraud in more than 2000 Baghdad polling stations,” 5/6/10

Arraf, Jane and al-Dulaimy, Mohammed, “US expresses first concerns over Iraq election results,” Christian Science Monitor, 4/26/10

Associated Press, “Baghdad recount could change Iraq election results,” 4/19/10
- “Baghdad Vote Recount to Take About 2-3 Weeks,” 4/29/10

Aswat al-Iraq, “Appeals Court decision guides vote recount – Hayderi,” 5/3/10

BBC, “Iraq vote recount calls rejected,” 3/21/10

Chulov, Martin, “Iraqi elections hit with claims of fraud by opposing parties,” Guardian, 3/16/10

Fadel, Leila and Hussein, Jinan, “Prime minister warns of violence, but election board rejects calls for recount,” Washington Post, 3/22/10

Latif, Nizar and Sands, Phil, “Recount of ballots threatens to undermine Iraq’s fragile stability,” The National, 4/21/10

Myers, Steven Lee, “In Recount, Iraqi Commission Finds Little Fraud,” New York Times, 5/14/10
- “Iraq Recount Mired in a New Dispute,” New York Times, 5/3/10

Al Sumaria News, Qanon, Al Cauther, Al-Iraq News, Al Rafidayn, RM Iraq, Sotal Iraq, “Iraq Votes – Part IX,” MEMRI Blog, 3/23/10

Williams, Timothy, “Wider Recount of Iraq Ballots Is Requested by Vote Leader,” New York Times, 4/20/10

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