Iraq election to offer voters legions of candidates:
"Washington, which has some 160,000 troops in Iraq more than two and a half years after the invasion, hopes the participation of more Sunni parties in the December vote will undermine the insurgency and bring more Sunnis into the political fold.
Sunni Arabs, who represent about 20 percent of the population, have lost influence and they voted overwhelmingly against the constitution, narrowly failing to veto it.
The barometer of the election may be the ethnically and religiously mixed capital city, Baghdad, where the parties will contest 59 of the 230 seats allocated to the provinces.
Parliament will have 275 seats, of which 45 will be distributed nationally as 'compensatory seats' to parties that do not win seats in the provinces yet do score enough votes for at least one seat at a national level.
'This election law, which is special for countries with religious and ethnic minorities, aims for a fair distibution of seats,' Hindawi said.
The extent to which smaller parties can chip away at the big blocs may be crucial. The Shi'ite alliance won nearly half the votes at Jan. 30 elections for the current transitional parliament, but now faces disillusionment about insecurity, poverty and corruption. "