Wow two political science posts in one day.
I read with great interest that the Iraqi people have spoken and that there will be a new government in their country, with incumbent Nouri Al-Maliki coming in second to Iyad Allawi in the latest election. The peaceful transfer of power is a hallmark of a slowly maturing democracy, so hopefully that is exactly what will transpire. Elections on their own do not signify a legitimate government; that the results are viewed as legitimate and therefore accepted by the people are a key cornerstone of what constitutes a democratic society. Saddam used to get between 99.9% and 100% of popular support in his "elections," which were mere shams to give the outward appearance of a democratic state. Truly, things have changed in Iraq, and very much for the better.
A simple truth is that more than 40 countries have invested significant amounts of blood and treasure to ensuring a successful transition towards democracy in Iraq. The hope is that by kicking out the corrosive and rotten structure of governance in much of the Islamic world and replacing it with a system of government based on respect for fundamental freedoms and the rule of law, the region will become more peaceful and more integrated vis-a-vis the rest of the world. Gone are the days of Saddam's torture chambers and hopefully the inspirational message that societies can make the transition from fear societies to free societies will carry over to Iraq's neighbours.