BAGHDAD — Defying a sustained barrage of mortars and rockets in Baghdad and other cities, Iraqis went to the polls in strength on Sunday to choose a new Parliament meant to outlast the American military presence here.and
“Iraqis are not afraid of bombs anymore,” said Maliq Bedawi, 45, defiantly waving his finger, stained with purple ink, to indicate he had voted, as he stood near the rubble of an apartment building in Baghdad hit by a huge rocket in the deadliest attack of the day.
Insurgents here vowed to disrupt the election, and the concerted wave of attacks — as many as 100 thunderous blasts in the capital alone starting just before the polls opened — did frighten voters away, but only initially.
The shrugging response of voters could signal a fundamental weakening of the insurgency’s potency. At least 38 people were killed in Baghdad. But by day’s end, turnout was higher than expected, and certainly higher than in the last parliamentary election in 2005, marred by a similar level of violence.
After the polls closed at 5 p.m., party leaders said two coalitions seemed to have fared best: the one led by Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, who has campaigned for a second time on improved security in Iraq, and another led by the former interim leader, Ayad Allawi, who has promised to overcome Iraq’s sectarian divides.Should be an interesting process to watch...
As expected, neither coalition appeared to have secured an outright majority in the new 325-member Parliament, and so it was unclear whether Mr. Maliki had succeeded in winning another four years in office.
That sets the stage for a period of turmoil — months, not weeks, politicians here predict — as the winning coalition tries to cobble together enough votes to elect a prime minister.