TEHRAN (Press Shia) – A political bloc led by Iraqi cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has won the Arab country’s parliamentary election, the electoral commission said on Saturday.
Sadr himself cannot become prime minister as he did not run in the election, though his bloc’s victory puts him in a position to have a strong say in negotiations. His Sairoon electoral list captured 54 parliamentary seats, Reuters reported.
The Al-Fatih bloc led by Hadi al-Amiri, that played a key role in defeating Daesh, came in second with 47 seats.
The Victory Alliance, headed by incumbent Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, took third place with 42.
The victory was a surprising change of fortunes. The cleric, who made his name leading two violent uprisings against US occupation troops, was sidelined for years by his rivals.
His bloc’s performance represented a rebuke to a political elite that some voters blame for widespread corruption and dysfunctional governance.
Sadr’s unlikely alliance with communists and secular Iraqis says it fiercely opposes any foreign interference in Iraq.
It has promised to help the poor and build schools and hospitals in Iraq, which was battered in the war to defeat Daesh militants and has suffered from low oil prices.
Winning the largest number of seats does not automatically guarantee that Sadr will be able to hand-pick a prime minister. The other winning blocs would have to agree on the nomination.
Amiri is regarded as one of the most powerful figures in Iraq. He spent two decades fighting Saddam Hussein.
Negotiations are expected to drag on for months. The government should be formed within 90 days of the official results.