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Voters wait outside a polling station in Erbil, Iraq. Photo: Younes Mohammed/Getty Images

Polls have closed in Iraq's first national parliamentary election since the defeat of ISIS, and voter turnout was markedly low, reports the AP.

The big picture: The election is "a litmus test for the mood of the country in the wake of a tumultuous few years," former Iraqi Ambassador to the U.S. Rend al-Rahim writes for the Atlantic Council. Results will trickle in over the next 48 hours.

The backdrop...

  • "During four years in office, Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi has racked up a list of achievements that would make most politicians envious," the AP's Phillip Issa and Qassim Abdul-Zahra report.
  • "He prevailed over an Islamic State insurgency that at its peak controlled one-third of the country. He steered Iraq’s economy through a collapse in global oil prices. And he foiled a Kurdish bid for independence."
  • "And yet, despite that record, a second term is far from assured" as results come in from Saturday's election.
  • "[T]he country continues to struggle with an economic downturn sparked in part by a drop in global oil prices."
  • And the unified Shiite parliamentary block that voted for Abadi in 2015 has split into five competing factions.

The details...

  • Driving low turnout was a 24-hour government curfew that began at midnight on Election Day. Voters complained about having to walk miles to polling stations, per AP, and Abadi lifted the curfew later in the day.
  • One exception to low turnout was in Mosul — a city ravaged by ISIS occupation — where 40% of those eligible to vote cast ballots.
  • Polling stations used electronic voting systems for the first time this year, and voters reported that there were technical difficulties at the polls.

What's next: Though results will be finalized in the next couple of days, the process of choosing a prime minister could take months, per the AP.

Go deeper

1 hour ago - World

Maximum pressure campaign escalates with Fakhrizadeh killing

Photo: Fars News Agency via AP

The assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the architect of Iran’s military nuclear program, is a new height in the maximum pressure campaign led by the Trump administration and the Netanyahu government against Iran.

Why it matters: It exceeds the capture of the Iranian nuclear archives by the Mossad, and the sabotage in the advanced centrifuge facility in Natanz.

Scoop: Biden weighs retired General Lloyd Austin for Pentagon chief

Lloyd Austin testifying before Congress in 2015. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Joe Biden is considering retired four-star General Lloyd Austin as his nominee for defense secretary, adding him to a shortlist that includes Jeh Johnson, Tammy Duckworth and Michele Flournoy, two sources with direct knowledge of the decision-making tell Axios.

Why it matters: A nominee for Pentagon chief was noticeably absent when the president-elect rolled out his national security team Tuesday. Flournoy had been widely seen as the likely pick, but Axios is told other factors — race, experience, Biden's comfort level — have come into play.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: WHO: AstraZeneca vaccine must be evaluated on "more than a press release."
  2. Politics: Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York COVID restrictions.
  3. World: Thailand, Philippines sign deal with AstraZeneca for vaccine.
  4. Economy: Safety nets to disappear in December Black Friday shopping across the U.S., in photosAmazon hires 1,400 workers a day throughout pandemic.
  5. Education: National standardized tests delayed until 2022.