Cleric Moqtada al-Sadr’s alliance won Iraq’s legislative election in May, according to a manual recount, the electoral commission said on Friday, paving the way for a government to be formed almost three months after the polls.
Allegations of fraud prompted the recount, but Sadr’s alliance retained all 54 of the 329 seats it won in the 12 May vote, with the only change being an extra seat for the Conquest Alliance of pro-Iranian former paramilitary fighters, which remains in second place.
The original 12 May poll involved a new electronic system for tallying votes cast, rather than counting voting slips manually – a process that has been criticised as being ripe for abuse.
Parliament ordered a full recount earlier in June after a government report concluded there were widespread violations.
That kicked off a fraught process as leaders of political blocs became embroiled in negotiations over the formation of the next government.
A panel of judges overseeing the recount later limited its scope, ruling that it would only cover suspect ballots flagged in formal complaints or official reports on fraud.
Overseas votes cast in Iran, Turkey, Britain, Lebanon, Jordan, the United States and Germany were recounted.
Sadr presents himself as a non-sectarian nationalist opposed to both the United States and Iran’s influence over his country.
The top three winning blocs, all Shia-led, have upwards of 140 seats between them. At least 165 seats are needed to form a government, although traditionally the ruling bloc in parliament tends to be larger so as to include Sunni Arab and Kurdish lawmakers.