The Iraqi Supreme Court on Tuesday ratified the final results of the nation's March 7 parliamentary elections [CEIP backgrounder; JURIST news archive], officially confirming a narrow victory for the secular Iraqiya alliance. The court's chief judge, Madhat al-Mahmoud, announced the ratification during a television broadcast of the ruling. The ruling confirms 91 seats of the 325-member parliament for the Iraqiya alliance, led by Iyad Allawi [personal website, in Arabic; Al Jazeera profile], giving the coalition a slim two-seat lead over the Shiite State of Law [official website] coalition of incumbent Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki [official website, in Arabic]. According to Iraq's constitution, President Jalal Talabani [BBC backgrounder] now has 15 days to call parliament to its first session, where the MPs will vote for a speaker and the next president. The new president will then have an additional 15 days to declare the largest coalition bloc, determined by the number of seats it holds. The coalition will then select the prime minister, and the new government will be officially established. The final issue left open by the court is whether the largest power bloc will be determined by the party that won the most seats in the election, or the largest coalition formed after negotiations between parties take place. This determination is crucial 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. Allawi, whose coalition is backed by the Sunni-minority, argues that the winning party should form the new government, stating that attempts to exclude Iraqiya will lead to the same sectarian violence that was seen following the 2005 elections.
Earlier this month, Iraq's Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) [official website] announced that the partial recount of the parliamentary elections would not alter seat allocations [JURIST reports] awarded in accordance with the provisional results. The commission held that the original count showed no signs of fraud [JURIST report] or major irregularities, and confirmed the two-seat lead of the the Iraqiya coalition over State of Law. The commission took 11 days to recount more than 2.5 million ballots by hand after Maliki challenged the results [JURIST report] alleging voting fraud at the polls.The IHEC ordered a manual recount of the Baghdad ballots in April but did not begin the recount [JURIST reports] until the review panel defined more precisely what a recount entailed. One day after the IHEC's announcement, the appeals court for Iraq's Justice and Accountability Commission overturned a ban [JURIST report] on nine newly elected members of parliament accused of having ties to the banned Baath Party [BBC backgrounder].The ad hoc commission was created to eliminate Iraqi officials with potential connections to regime of Saddam Hussein [JURIST news archive], who led the Baath party during his presidency. Eight of the banned candidates were members of the Sunni-backed coalition Iraqiya.The ban by the commission, which is made up predominantly of Shiites, was perceived as a tactic by the Shiite bloc to garner seats from Iraqiya in order to gain the plurality for Maliki's State of Law coalition.