Dubai: The advance of the Iraqiya bloc of Eyad Allawi against the State of Law bloc led by incumbent Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki has surprised Iraqis and analysts.
Al Maliki was battling for his political survival on Thursday.
Members of Al Maliki's group have called for the recounting of ballots in Baghdad.
Iraqis, including some supporters of Al Maliki, see the Prime Minister's rude behaviour in the past towards members of his own alliance and ex-comrades as reasons behind Allawi's rise.
Thursday, Al Maliki's alliance led Allawi's Iraqiya list by only 40,000 votes, according to the latest results after 89 per cent of ballots had been counted.
People in Shiite religious circles believe that Allawi's advance has come mainly because of Al Maliki, who is seen as responsible for disunity among Shiites.
"Al Maliki, who established the State of Law bloc to distance himself from the National Iraqi Alliance led by Ebrahim Al Jaafari, was over-confident of winning this election, but the close race proves that he was wrong," Dr Hassan Jaafar, political analyst and professor at Baghdad University, told Gulf News.
"Even if Al Maliki is asked to form the government, he will not be as strong as he used to be. The withdrawal of US troops by August will weaken Al Maliki even further," he said.