Polling opens in Iraq, blogged here

On the spot coverage of Iraqi polling can be followed on this site.

[Hat tip to Instapundit.]

US Supreme Court to consider Texas gerrymandering cases

The U.S. Supreme Court is to review laws concerning the drawing up of congressional districts in the individual states, following complaints about the election of Republican members to the Federal House of Representatives.

Election Law blog carries an analysis on the possible effects of the appointment of two new supreme court justices since the last similar case in 2004.

Opinion Poll suggests that Iraqi elections will succeed

To the almost palpable amazement of much of the world's media, Iraqi public opinion (as far as it can be measured) remains doggedly optimistic about the future. People seem to be generally optimistic about their own lives (70%), rather than the general outlook for the country (44%), by support for the elections is high, with even a substantial minority of people in Sunni areas supporting them. It's intriguing to note that these figures are substantially better than for either the U.S. or the British administrations.

There are positive political signs as well. Three-quarters of Iraqis express confidence in the national elections being held this week, 70 percent approve of the new constitution, and 70 percent — including most people in Sunni and Shiite areas alike — want Iraq to remain a unified country.

Interest in politics has soared.

Preference for a democratic political structure has advanced, to 57 percent of Iraqis, while support for an Islamic state has lost ground, to 14 percent (the rest, 26 percent, chiefly in Sunni Arab areas, favor a "single strong leader.")

My tip: a higher turnout than in the last U.K. or U.S. general elections, to say nothing of the turnout in European constitution referendums!

President Mubarak names women and Copts as "top-up" members of parliament

Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak has appointed five women and five Coptic Christians as members of Egypt's parliament after last week's final round of elections (report on earlier round here).

The Egyptian parliament has 454 members, most of whom are elected in stages.

Early tip for Democrat challenger to Hillary Clinton

My early tip for a challenger to Hillary Clinton, outgoing Virginia Governor Mark Warner, has raised $2.5 million in what has been described as a "coming out party." I have commented earlier about the choice of Democratic candidate for the next U.S. presidential election of 2008.

Warner's approval ratings in Virginia ran to 80% and he is widely credited in having facilitated the election of his Democratic successor Tim Kaine. His problems at the moment are the relative low name recognition that Warner has outside the South, the superstar status and likely fundraising power of Senator Hillary Clinton (New York).

At this stage, I see no sign of a strong Republican candidate other than the aging and divisive (among Republicans) Senator John McCain. Right now, I would predict a Democrat win in 2008 if McCain is going to be the Republican nominee, against either Senator Clinton or ex-Governor Warner.

Chile election goes to run-off

Reports here and here, from Chile suggest that Michelle Bachelet, the leading candidate for the presidency, is a shoo-in for the second round with her estimated 45% of the first round vote.

The truth is somewhat different. Joaquin Lavin, the right-wing candidate who finished third with about 23% of the vote has endorsed his rival Sebastian Pinera (who scored over 25%, and urged his supporters to back a united right-wing campaign in the second round.

If the Socialist candidate were perceived as promoting actual socialist policies, it seems almost certain that she would be defeated in the second round of voting. However, with the economy generally in good shape thanks to the Left's stable economic policies over the past 15 years, we may see a less than total mobilization of conservative voters.

Don't bet the house either way (yet) on this one!