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Election Results Could Determine Iraq's Future

ALI AL-SAADI/AFP/Getty Images(BAGHDAD) -- The latest rise in sectarian violence in Iraq could either spin out of control or simmer down, depending on the results of last Saturday's provincial elections.

While the vote was for governors who will determine local economic and reconstruction issues, it could very well turn out to be a mandate on the future of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government when Iraqis pick a new parliament next year.

As it stands, al-Maliki's State of Law bloc is poised to win a majority of eight of ten provinces, with two other Shiite groups leading in their respective provinces as well.

In two Sunni-dominated provinces, the vote is going the way of local parties.

However, should Shiite blocs suddenly surge in these Sunni regions, it's possible Sunni tribesmen already fed up with al-Maliki's regime will decide that the election process is bogus and break away from any attempt at national reconciliation.

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