Elections

51% of Iraqis Cast Ballots

Iraqis have taken a major step toward regaining control of their destiny, with millions turning out yesterday for provincial elections. Early returns indicate a good day for America's allies in the country, with US-backed Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's party improving his position among Shiites in southern Iraq. Results aside, there was plenty to celebrate on all sides, as Iraqi officials pegged turnout at 51 percent and no major attacks disrupted polling sites. Sunnis appeared to turn out in large numbers in areas where they had previously boycotted elections in 2005, which set the stage for the civil war that followed. Tribal leaders who organized the "Sunni Awakening" that helped reduce violence dramatically over the last two years are hoping to end up with a solid showing. National elections will be held later this year.