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Iraq holds its first parliamentary election since ISIS defeat

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Iraq holds its first parliamentary election since ISIS defeat
 Iraqis vote Saturday in the first parliamentary election since the country declared victory over ISIS. The balloting is expected to be a referendum on Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s tenure and his pledge to be more inclusive of Iraq’s Sunni minority.
Entrenched corruption, the influence of Iran and the future of US forces currently in Iraq are other issues that have dominated the run-up to the election. There are 329 seats at stake, with nearly 7,000 candidates from dozens of different political alliances.
Few foresee a dramatic government shake-up, however. The most powerful alliances expected to win the most seats are headed by the same parties that have dominated Iraqi politics since 2003.
Al-Abadi is seeking to retain his post but faces stiff competition from his predecessor, Nouri al-Maliki, and the Fatah alliance of candidates who have close ties to the powerful, mostly Shiite paramilitary forces.
Fatah is headed by Hadi al-Amiri, a former minister of transport who became a senior commander of paramilitary fighters in the fight against the IS group. Many of the candidates on his list were also paramilitary commanders before they cut their official ties with the force in order to seek office.
Influential cleric Muqtada al-Sadr also leads an alliance. He commanded fighters in the war against ISIS and headed a powerful militia that fought US forces in Iraq before that, but his campaign has focused on social issues and eliminating government corruption.
Because so many different political alliances are running, no one group is seen as being able to win the 165 seats required for an outright majority. Instead, the bloc that wins the most seats will have to cobble together a majority by getting the support of smaller alliances.
Alarabiya