It could take over a month before the Iraqi Supreme Court confirms the results of Sunday's legislative elections, but the process itself has already shown significant successes in several dimensions. Even so, important questions regarding Iraq's future, and America's role in it, remain unresolved.
Most importantly, this latest election confirms Iraq's status as a functioning democracy in which multiple candidates and political parties compete for office in essentially free and fair elections, whose outcome could not be predicted in advance. While such an achievement would not be remarkable in many parts of the world, it is a rarity in the Middle East, a region normally governed by authoritarian regimes or limited democracies such as Iran.
Despite insurgent efforts to keep them away from the polls, an estimated 62 percent of Iraq's 19 million eligible voters cast ballots. The guerillas appear to have been husbanding their resources for months in preparation for their own election-day terrorist surge. As soon as polls opened on Sunday, they detonated several bombs, killing three dozen people and wounding many more, in one of the largest waves of violence in the last two years. They had launched another, smaller series of attacks three days earlier, when preliminary voting began.