BAGHDAD (AFP) – Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki on Saturday comfortably emerged as the top vote getter in Baghdad, which has the most seats in parliament of any constituency, early results showed.
In preliminary figures released by the election commission, Maliki's State of Law Alliance was followed by the Iraqi National Alliance, a coalition led by Shiite religious parties.
The secular Iraqiya bloc of ex-premier Iyad Allawi came in third.
With 18 percent of ballots counted, Maliki had garnered around 150,000 votes to the INA's 108,000 and Iraqiya's 105,000.
Baghdad accounts for 70 parliamentary seats, or more than a fifth of the 325-member Council of Representatives, making it a crucial province for any would-be government.
Winning Baghdad would give Maliki a major boost in his bid to retain his post, with Allawi having emerged as his biggest rival for the top job.
Initial results have put Maliki ahead in the predominantly Shiite southern provinces of Babil, Najaf, Muthanna and Karbala, while Allawi leads in the mostly Sunni provinces of Diyala and Salaheddin.
The INA, meanwhile, is in pole position in Shiite Maysan.
The Kurdistania alliance, made up of the two long-dominant blocs in Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region, was leading in Arbil province.
Results released so far represent less than a third of votes cast.
Complete results are expected on Thursday and the final ones -- after any appeals are dealt with -- will likely come at the end of the month.
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