Iraq’s top election body said Thursday a manual recount of votes from the parliamentary election in May showed almost no difference from the initial tally, clearing the way for political parties to form a government. Fewer than a dozen members of parliament out of 329 lost their seats in the recount, according to Iraq’s electoral commission. The ballots were recounted after widespread allegations of fraud in the election in which populist anti-U.S. cleric Moqtada al-Sadr won a surprise victory. Those allegations paralyzed Iraq’s politics and increased popular anger, and the recount result is unlikely to restore confidence in the democratic process.
At least 55% of Iraqis had boycotted the May vote, reflecting widespread disillusion with a political class that has reaped billions of dollars from oil revenues but has failed to deliver basic services to large parts of the population since the U.S. toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003.
The next government faces a daunting list of challenges: reforming the economy, fighting corruption, rebuilding areas destroyed in the war against Islamic State and preventing a resurgence of the terror group over which Iraq claimed victory last year.