Shiite Arab Areas
One senior government official said the elections would "redraw the political map of Iraq" while Vice President Adel Abdul Mahdi described them as a "major rehearsal for the parliamentary elections" due in 2009-10. An expert from the International Crisis Group predicted a "big shift", with the existing parties established by exiles losing ground to more recently formed parties of people who stayed in Iraq during the rule of Saddam Hussein.
There is also expected to be significant electoral competition between two main Shiite Islamist parties in the government - the Islamic Dawa Party of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council of Vice-President Adel Abdul Mahdi. Following the Battle of Basra (2008), the Prime Minister created "support councils" to help with security in the southern provinces and Maliki was accused of using these support councils to build a political base. The Presidency Council of Iraq publicly criticised the Prime Minister in November 2008, saying these support councils were illegal, should be suspended and the money used to support the regular Army and Police.
Competition is also expected between the government Islamist parties and the opposition Sadrist Movement, with some commentators saying Sadrists were expected to win a majority of seats in southern Iraq and parts of Baghdad. The Sadrist Movement supported the Blamelessness and Reconstruction (376) list and the Independent Trend of the Noble Ones (284)
Some commentators predicted there would be a backlash against the incumbent religious parties in favour of more secular parties.
Shortly before the election, an initiative was started in Basra Province to convert the province into a Region. The initiative failed to reach 10% of eligible voters in the specified period, meaning it fell.
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