From the March 22, 2010 issue of TIME Magazine
Iraqis are getting good at elections. On Sunday they went to the polls for the fifth time since the fall of Saddam Hussein to choose a new parliament despite election-day violence that killed 38. U.S. President Barack Obama congratulated Iraqis for voting "with enthusiasm and optimism." But running elections is one thing; running Iraq is another. The general election of 2005 empowered ethnic and sectarian leaders who proved incapable of compromise and took the country to the brink of civil war. The surge of U.S. troops in 2007 bought just enough security and time to give democracy one more shot. Superficially, Iraqi politicians appear to have learned the lesson. The major parties have joined broad "national unity" coalitions. But the leadership is the same, as are the problems: how to share power, oil and land. Votes may not be fully counted until late March, and no coalition is expected to win enough seats to form a government on its own. Iraqis are bracing for weeks of backroom dealing. Meanwhile, U.S. combat troops are scheduled to leave by August. Maybe Iraq will have a government by then. Maybe not.
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