Initial turnout in Iraq’s general election held on Sunday was 41%, the Independent High Electoral Commission said early on Monday.
Initial results are expected later on Monday.
Sunday’s election drew one of the smallest turnouts for years, with the low participation suggesting dwindling trust in political leaders and the democratic system brought in by the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.
The established, Shi’ite Islamist-dominated ruling elite whose most powerful parties have armed wings is expected to sweep the vote, with the movement led by populist Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.
He opposes all foreign interference and his main rivals are Iran-allied Shi’ite groups, seen emerging as parliament’s biggest faction.
Such a result would not dramatically alter the balance of power in Iraq or the wider Middle East, say Iraqi officials, foreign diplomats and analysts, but for Iraqis it could mean that a former insurgency leader and conservative Islamist could increase his sway over the government.
Two electoral commission officials told Reuters that nationwide turnout of eligible voters was 19% by midday. Total turnout was 44.5% in the last election in 2018.
Iraqi elections are often followed by protracted talks over a president, a prime minister and a cabinet.
It appeared to be the lowest turnout in any election since 2003, according to electoral commission counts at polling stations that Reuters visited across the country.
In Baghdad’s Sadr City, a polling station set up in a girls’ school saw a slow but steady trickle of voters.
Election volunteer Hamid Majid, 24, said he had voted for his old school teacher, a candidate for the Sadrists.