Good sign:

A statement on Monday from the United Iraqi Alliance spokesman saying that a religious form of government is not an aim of the alliance was clearly intended for American ears. US authorities have made it plain that they do not want to see either a clerical regime on the Iranian model or an Iraqi government under Iranian influence to emerge from the elections.

Within the Iraqi electorate there are key constituencies that also need to be assured that if they vote for the alliance list with its major Shiite parties they will not be voting for the creation of a theocratic state in thrall to Tehran.

Despite the dangers looming over the election and its aftermath, this Iraqi consensus about the need to avoid a government of religious authorities is a good thing.

As it is, candidates and voters alike will have to withstand lethal attacks from Baathist and Islamist counterrevolutionaries. Then members of the national assembly will have to write a constitution and will also have to find a way to balance security against the longing to be rid of foreign forces. There would be little chance of clearing any of these hurdles if Iraq’s politicians and parties were not prepared to practice the call-and-response habits of democracy. So it is a hopeful sign that politicians have been able to hear and respond to a common wish. — The Boston Globe