Yahoo! News - Allawi Enters Iraq PM Race; Bush Faces Europe:
The United Iraqi Alliance has yet to name its candidate for prime minister formally, although the front runner is Ibrahim al-Jaafari, a religious Shi'ite and former exile. He is being challenged from within the alliance by one-time Pentagon (news - web sites) darling and former exile Ahmad Chalabi.
A two-thirds majority is needed in the assembly to form a government -- a margin no coalition has unless it strikes an alliance with another group. A Kurdish alliance came second in the election, winning 25 percent of votes for 75 seats.
Iraq's leading Kurdish leader said on Monday that the Kurdish bloc would strike an alliance with the party that most supported a federal and pluralist Iraq.
'There are talks with various parties on steps to form the government and other matters. The main point for us is Iraq's identity and there can be no compromise on the issue of a federal, democratic, pluralist and united Iraq,' said Masoud Barzani, head of the Kurdistan Democratic Party.
If the main Shi'ite alliance and the Kurds were to ally, they could grasp a two-thirds majority and decide the top government posts between them. Until Allawi joined the running on Monday, that had appeared the most likely scenario.
Adding intrigue to the horse-trading, Allawi, who is a secular Shi'ite, met Jaafari for more than an hour on Monday.
'We evaluated the election process,' Jaafari said afterwards, giving no details. He expected it to be a couple of days before the main Shi'ite alliance names a candidate."