Iraq's Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) [official website] announced on Sunday that the partial recount of the March parliamentary elections [CEIP backgrounder; JURIST news archive] will not alter seat allocations awarded in accordance with the provisional results. The commission held [JURIST report] that the original count showed no signs of fraud or major irregularities, and confirmed the two-seat lead of the the Iraqiya coalition of Iyad Allawi [personal website, in Arabic; Al Jazeera profile] over al-Maliki's State of Law [official website] coalition. The commission took 11 days to recount more than 2.5 million ballots by hand after incumbent Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki challenged the results [JURIST report] alleging voting fraud at the polls. Allawi's Iraqiya coalition, which garners the support of the Sunni minority, hopes the bloc's victory will be a turning point for bipartisan participation among the religious sects. Allawi's goal of unification may be thwarted though, as Maliki's bloc has already announced an alliance with the Shia Iraqi National Alliance, which polled third, to form the largest grouping in parliament. The confirmed election results must now be certified by Iraq's highest court, which will lead to negotiations for the next prime minister.
Last month, the IHEC ordered a manual recount of the ballots in Baghdad, where 68 seats of the 325-seat parliament were up for election, but did not begin the recount [JURIST reports] until the review panel defined more precisely what a recount entailed. Earlier in April, an IHEC review panel nullified the votes of 52 candidates for alleged ties to Saddam Hussein's Baath Party [BBC backgrounder], including two candidates that had won seats in the Iraqi Council of Representatives [official website], at least one of which coming from Iraqiya. In February, an Iraqi appeals panel ruled [JURIST report] that 28 of the 500 candidates previously banned due to allegations of ties to the Baath Party could stand in the election. The initial ban was characterized by the Iraqi government as illegal and was reversed [JURIST reports] when the panel acknowledged that it did not have to rule on all 500 candidates at once. This came as a reversal of a previous decision, where it held that the candidates could stand in the coming elections, but would have to be cleared of the allegations against them before taking office. The amount of time being taken to set up the new government may leave Iraq vulnerable to the violence that erupted after the 2005 parliamentary elections when the government took five months to negotiate a new government.