The first voters in Iraq's parliamentary election are heading to the polls as the military, people in hospitals and prisons have voted and Iraqis abroad are voting as well. As before the major contenders are the Shia-religious UIA list, Allawi's secular list and the Kurdish united list, joined now by the National Accord Front of the Sunni.
The electoral system for this election is different as well, with most of the seats allocated on a provincial level by the d'Hondt system. This will ensure that all groups have representation regionally regardless of how many people turn out in the region. There is also a pool of national compensatory seats which will probably help out smaller parties which might have been left out due to the smaller constituency size, as well as make the overall result proportional.
It would probably be correct to anticipate the UIA triumph but it will certainly be of a smaller proportion than in the last election, with the addition of the Sunni and increasing popularity of secular national lists such as Allawi's and the others led by al-Kubba and Chalabi.
All that is necessary for a government under the new constitution is an absolute majority of the House of Representatives (and not two-thirds as under the TAL) so the Shia-Kurdish coalition might be able to continue governing, but whether that coalition will survive or whether the Kurds will leave to work with someone like Allawi and other secular lists is open to question.
At any rate, it is exciting to see the Iraqis voting again with enthusiasm for the permanent government and to see the constitution implemented and in action. And while I may have disagreed with the reasoning for the war in the first place I can't help but be excited for the people who have the right to choose their government for the first time and be happy with the enthusiasm and alacrity they have clearly displayed over the past months in embracing the democratic process.