Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr takes shock lead in Iraq election
May 14, 2018 -- Widespread disillusionment with Iraq's current political class appears to have helped the coalition of influential Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr become the early front-runner in national elections marked by record low turnout.
Partial returns of the 2018 vote – the first since Iraq declared victory over the so-called Islamic State group – were announced late Sunday by the Iraqi electoral commission and put al-Sadr’s political alliance in the lead in four provinces, including Baghdad.
The election came as the country deals with the disenfranchisement of the country’s Sunni minority. Of more than two million Iraqis displaced by the war, the majority are Sunnis. Also at issue is the influence of Iran on the country – Iranian-backed Shiite militias who played a key role in defeating IS and were allied with the Shiite-led Baghdad government made significant electoral gains.