BAGHDAD (AFP) – Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s bloc has a comfortable lead in the predominantly Shiite southern province of Basra, Iraq’s third-biggest constituency, early results showed on Sunday.
In the partial results from the March 7 general election, Maliki’s State of Law Alliance garnered 219,657 votes, compared to 121,497 votes for the Iraqi National Alliance, a coalition led by Shiite religious groups.
The secular Iraqiya bloc of ex-premier Iyad Allawi, who like Maliki is also Shiite, was third with 36,093 votes.
Basra accounts for 24 parliamentary seats in the 325-member Council of Representatives, behind only Baghdad, which has 70 seats, and Nineveh province in north Iraq with 34.
It is the sixth province in which State of Law has taken a lead, following results released since Thursday that have put Maliki’s bloc ahead in Baghdad, Babil, Najaf, Karbala and Muthanna.
Aside from Baghdad, the other five are mostly Shiite provinces in the south of Iraq.
But no single bloc is expected to win the 163 seats required to form a parliamentary majority on its own, and analysts expect protracted coalition building.