Preliminary results in Iraq show Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's coalition won a solid victory over Shi'ite religious parties in Saturday's provincial elections.
The preliminary tally released Thursdayindicates Mr. Maliki's State of Law coalition won in the capital, Baghdad, and Iraq's second largest city, Basra.
The prime minister's allies also took the lead in at least eight other Shi'ite dominated provinces.Shi'ite religious parties, including that of radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, did not do so well in last weekend's provincial vote, during which Iraqis chose ruling councils in 14 of 18 provinces.
The prime minister is Shi'ite, but he has pursued a more secular agenda and taken forceful action against religious extremist militias.
The vote is being seen as a referendum of Mr. Maliki's leadership ahead of national parliamentary elections later this year.