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Iraqi Kurds Could End Up With 75 Parliamentary Seats

Compromise may be the political reality in Iraq, now that official election results have been announced. A coalition dominated by Shiite Islamic parties won about 48 percent of the vote, but fell far short of what they needed to control Iraq’s new National Assembly. And a Kurdish coalition finished a strong second.

Iraq's Shia majority and the Kurds, who have enjoyed autonomous rule in the north, turned out to be the big winners in last month's elections.

The Shia-led United Iraqi Alliance, supported by Iraq's leading Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, won 48 percent of the vote, but failed to get the two-thirds majority needed to control the 275-member National Assembly.

The Kurds, who have enjoyed autonomy in northern Iraq, won 26 percent of the vote, setting off celebrations in the northern city of Kirkuk.

Iyad Allawi won just 13 percent of the vote. Together, those three coalitions accounted for nearly 88 percent of the vote, making them the dominant players in the nation's new parliament, which will choose a president and two deputy vice presidents. They, in turn, will appoint a prime minister, who will choose a cabinet.

Parliamentary seats will be allocated to the various parties, based upon the percentage of votes each won. The Shiites stand to gain 140 seats and the Kurds could end up with about 75.

This man in Baghdad said ‘we hope those who have been elected will work to achieve people's hopes, including controlling security.’

Those hopes may depend upon negotiations already underway, concerning who will be chosen for the top positions in the new government.

Abdel Aziz-al-Hakim, the leader of one of the two Shia groups which comprise the United Iraqi Alliance, held meetings Monday with political allies about Iraq's future. Mister al-Hakim spoke Sunday of the need for cooperation with disenchanted Sunnis already alienated in post-Saddam Iraq.

Dr. Abdul Sattar Jawad, Editor of the Assiyada newspaper in Baghdad, said all segments of Iraqi society must participate in the drafting of the nation's new constitution. "The next government should also strike a deal. There must be a compromise with political parties that didn't participate in the election because I cannot assume any success for any government that leans to the right or to the left," he said.

Election officials would not say Monday when the new National Assembly is expected to meet. Participants who dispute the election results have two more days to lodge complaints.