The al-Sistani-backed united Shiite religious parties have won 48 percent of the vote in the recent Iraq elections, which is significant but not enough to rule without the secularists. Fifty-two percent of the votes went to other parties, including about 40 percent of votes split between the secularist Kurdish and Alawi lists. This is good news, as the Shiites had been rumored to have captured 60 percent or more of the votes when counting commenced. They actually got 12 percent fewer votes than expected, but the BBC still headlines the results as "Shiites Triumph in Iraqi Election." Perhaps the Beeb has been hoping for an Islamist theocracy to rise up in Iraq -- a second choice if they can't get the bloody civil war they've been plumping for lately. Anything to make the Bush administration look bad; who cares if it hurts the Iraqis? The horse trading will commence among all the different factions and parties and it will likely be a harsh and sometimes brutal process. But right now it looks like the Iraqis have themselves the beginnings of a democracy.
UPDATE: This article points out that the Sistani-backed Shiite coalition also included some secular factions, including one led by Ahmed Chalabi. With Chalabi's secularists, the secular majority grows a bit more.
Cross-posted at The Adventuress.