The big story, of course, is the Iraqi elections. I have been busy for the last three days, first with my wife's birthday and then with work (yes, on a weekend), and so I have not looked at my usual blog haunts at all. Tomorrow I get back to my sorta-normal routine.
What this means is that I can give my judgments unsullied by the blog echo chamber; put another way, I have not benefited from the wisdom of others who no doubt have been able to follow this much more closely than I. And so will keep this short and simple until tomorrow.
It appears as though turnout was higher than expected, with the Guardian estimating it at 57% and the New York Times potentially above 60%. That sounds very good, especially in comparison with the US where we didn't have to worry about bombs. (While it doesn't excuse the ten-hour lines, it does put them in perspective a bit.) What is more important than the total figure is the variation in turnout among major groups and across regions. This is the kind of news that will take a little longer to trickle in.
The Times reports that turnout in Sunni areas might have been 40%. This is, of course, the key since any government must account for possible Sunni resentments. Even if they win a disproportionately low number of seats due to lower turnout than among Kurds and Shiites, it would be prudent for the new government to listen carefully to Sunni concerns in drawing up the new constitution and not dismiss them. This is, after all, merely an intermediary step, though an important one. Before people get all self-congratulatory about the results (I'm looking at you, George!) all players need to start planning carefully for the next stage.
The elections were an important and, it appears, positive step, but it was only a step. Nor, just because the bombings weren't quite as devastating as many feared, does it mean the security situation has suddenly become Mayberry RFD. I'm very happy it wasn't a bloodbath today and that so many Iraqis voted. Now let's see what those elected do with this power, and how strong a hand the U.S. shows in directing them.