Sunday’s election is being seen as a test of Iraq’s potential for stability as US troops prepare to leave.
The poll will be the second for a full four-year parliament since the US led invasion in 2003. More than 6000 candidates are competing for 325 seats.
Under the Iraqi electoral system, no single party can win an outright, and the ensuing horse-trading for a governing coalition could last some time, according to former Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim Al-Jafari:
“Under the Iraqi constitution, whoever wins the election has the right to nominate a Prime Minister. But whoever that might be, he will need the support of another grouping in order to have the most support. So whichever grouping wins will need to form a coalition in the next parliament.
That is why, after the election, we will see all kinds of coalition groupings pop up, because people will be keen for their candidate to become prime minister.”