They are busy counting in Iraq. Maliki's coalition seems to be doing well but the big story there is that Ayad Allawi's grouping, "Al-'Iraqiya" is also doing surprisingly well. Allawi represents in some sense the old Iraq that emerged in the '50s under Hashemite rule, an Iraq that had been brewing under the influence of western style school curricula ever since Ottoman days. This was an Iraq that increasingly saw itself in terms of a non-sectarian, nationalist identity. The Baath Party became a vehicle for expression of that self image for the Baath was a relentlessly secular, nationalist and non-Marxist socialist entity. There were many secular Shia Iraqi Baathists and Allawi was one of them until he had a major falling out with Saddam Hussein.
In the present circumstance Allawi's coalition represents a yearning for that other Iraq. That Iraq was a "work in progress," in 2003. It had been twisted and diverted into strange paths by Saddam, but it still existed and it was reflected in the many "mixed marriages" and mixed neighborhoods around the country.
Allawi represents the possibility of an Iraq not dominated by sectarian religion and government inclined toward an Iranian alliance. The secular Sunni and Shia Arabs, tribals, and Kurds (some) who support him are waiting to see if there is reality in that hope. pl