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This time around, Iraqi electoral officials will allocate seats using a new formula that more closely translates the percentage of votes into a percentage of seats, said Jose Maria Aranaz, the chief electoral adviser at the United Nations mission to Iraq.

Previously, parties that failed to reach a minimum threshold saw their votes discarded, while top vote-getters often secured a disproportionately large number of seats even if they did not win a majority outright.

“The provincial councils should be more representative, and there will be less wasted votes,” Aranaz said.

Political analyst Hadi Jalo predicted that half of the more than 16 million registered voters would cast ballots. Many, he forecast, will do so out of loyalty rather than a belief that their votes will bring about meaningful change.

“Those voters believe that it is a … duty to vote for people from their own sect or tribe,” he said.