The last person in Iraq with the right to object to the performance of the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq or to cast doubt on the results of the count is Prime Minister Dr. Nuri al Maliki, as he is the most influential and powerful candidate over most of the country’s diverse population. If there is anybody who can affect candidacy, election and vote counting, it is the prime minister due to the exclusive privileges he enjoys and institutions and government bodies he controls. The influence he has cannot be compared with that of any other candidate, including Iyad Allawi, who could not order or forbid anything even on the street he lives on and this is the case with the majority of other candidates.
The elections, just like football, should end with a winner and a loser, but some losers tend to place the blame for the defeat on the referee, the weather or the spectators to justify their defeat.
In spite of the objections, the elections brought wonderful and interesting results that are logical considering the developments in the lives of Iraqi people. In all election experiences all over the world, people rarely elect the same government twice, and it is not odd in Iraq’s case that people are looking for another opportunity following four hard years. Notice that Dr. al Maliki won only 89 out of a total of 325 seats in parliament, in other words 27 per cent of the total number of seats; a number that is too modest to be achieved through vote rigging. Even the victor Dr. Iyad Allawi himself is complaining about such modest figures by saying that the government’s practices carried out against him were so fierce that it used its powers in different areas to force people not to vote for him. If they had not been perpetrated, he would have won over 150 seats instead of 91.
The match is over and the commission settled the result; the winner of most votes is Allawi. His victory has strengthened a positive concept of Iraqi democracy; that Iraqi democracy is capable of achieving a peaceful transfer of power and that the door is open to all groups regardless of their political orientations.
Despite that Allawi won the majority of Iraqi votes, the parliamentary system does not guarantee that he will become the prime minister unless he achieves the legal requirement of the parliamentary majority, i.e. half-plus-one votes and this is through entering an alliance with more than one rival and by building a bloc with which he can form a government. Even the loser, Nouri al Maliki, has an equal opportunity to build a parliamentary bloc with which he can return to power.
Even though victory is important, respecting the result is just as important to the future of the political process. Unless partners respect the result and congratulate the winner, the Iraqi experience will remain congested and will end in complete failure for everyone including the rivals. Al Maliki, more so than the others, should have declared his respect, acceptance and defence of the results immediately after they were announced and should have been the first to congratulate Allawi in order to establish democratic principles that he himself was calling for and which helped him reach his current situation. Not Allawi, nor Adel al Mehdi nor Ibrahim al Jaafari, but al Maliki, is mainly responsible for consolidating the democratic experience in Iraq and protecting it so that he can end his term in a way that would uphold his honour throughout history.