The second parliamentary elections in Iraq were held yesterday. There were some attempts to disrupt the voting, but the citizens showed courage and, largely, turned out peacefully.
My reading of various sources, and of the way the voting will work (mostly by individual candidate, but after reaching the election threshold, excess votes will be re-distributed to other members, if any, of the voting alliance within constituencies) lead me to expect something like the following preliminary results when they are announced around Wednesday (in terms of percentage of seats in the newly-expanded Parliament):
Law and Order (Maliki's)-35%
Iraqi National Alliance (Shiite)--25%, of which about half Sadrist, half Sistani
Iraqiya (led by former P.M. Ayead Allawi--secular, with Sunni support)--15%
Kurdish Alliance (the two main parties, running together)--10%
Gorran (Kurdish alternate movement)--5%
If these are approximately the results, it will be favorable for Iraqi stability though not easy to create a new government. Maliki will have the edge and plenty of time to make a coalition, as well as several options. He can ally with the more secular and Sunni groups if he finds the Shiite parties intractable, even though that would go against his past history. The Kurdish parties will still have a great bargaining position, which will be one of the most favorable aspects of the post-election environment for keeping the country together.
Maliki--whose party name, "Law and Order" (as translated, anyway), has got to be a great draw--is nicely placed in the middle of the continuum of Iraqi parties: not secular, safely anti-Baathist, Shiite ascendant, but not in the pocket of the mullahs. The best outcome I could conceive--a dynamic, good-government coalition-- would be an alliance with the new, non-traditional Kurd movement (Gorran--see this link for more information) and the Sistani (moderate) Shiites. Reports from the campaign suggest that Moqtada al-Sadr's supporters only nominally worked with Sistani's followers, and that there could be a cleavage between the two (al-Sadr's group is probably beyond the pale for Maliki and for the US).