Iraq's Sunni Provinces Vote
In Sunni areas, by contrast, the vote may be seen as a referendum on the now six-month-old Sunni protest movement, most closely associated with Iraqi Parliament Speaker Osama al-Nujayfi's Mutahidun ("Uniters") bloc. Formed from the largest contingent of the federal Iraqiya coalition and fielding support from both protesters and the Sunni media, the Mutahidun had every reason to expect a strong win. The results of the April 20 vote were instead mixed. While winning a strong plurality of the Sunni vote in Baghdad and Diyala, the Mutahidun came in second to Salah al-Din Governor Ahmad Abdullah al-Jiburi, a Maliki ally who has turned against the movement for a Sunni autonomous region with which the Mutahidun are closely associated.
The Anbar and Ninawa elections proved an even greater setback for the Mutahidun. And while no Sunni party ran on an expressly pro-Maliki platform, those who supported working with him did much better than would have been expected from watching Sunni media coverage of the protests in recent months. The turnout was below average in Ninawa, possibly due to deteriorating security conditions, and the Mutahidun's weak plurality in Anbar, where participation was higher, may have been driven by security fears as some coalition leaders began threatening armed revolt in recent weeks. This suggests that Sunni concerns about Maliki's creeping authoritarianism are being balanced with fears that the protest movement's radicalism could direct the country toward war or partition.