Iraqis Vote for Secular Parties
Iraq PM claiming victory in provincial poll
By Peter Fearon,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 2, 2009 2:24 AM CST
Iraqi women display their ink-stained fingers showing they have voted in the country's provincial elections.   (AP Photo/Alaa al-Marjani)
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(Newser) – Iraq's Dawa Party and other secular political parties appear to have scored significant victories in Iraq's provincial elections, strengthening the hand of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Detailed election results are still several days off, but religious parties appear to have been defeated in the principal cities of Bahgdad and Basra, reports the New York Times.

The turnout of 51% voters nationwide drew mixed reaction. It was lower than expected, but the head of the Independent High Electoral Commission said he was "very pleased" with the numbers. “Very rarely in other parts of the world do you get such a high percentage voting in provincial elections,” he said.