The Shiite cleric's coalition with the communists won the most seats, but that doesn't ensure the alliance will get the prime minister post. Negotiations to form a new government could take months.
The political coalition led by influential Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr won the most seats in Iraq's national parliamentary elections, according to official results from the electoral commission release Saturday.
His Marching Towards Reform alliance (Sairoon) with Iraq's communists won 54 parliamentary seats in the May 12 vote. Sadr led insurgencies against US forces following the ouster of Saddam Hussein and is against Iranian and American influence in Iraq.
Sadr, who centered the election campaign on a non-sectarian platform of nationalism, anti-corruption and services, cannot become prime minister because he did not run in the election.
The al-Fatih bloc led by Hadi al-Amiri, which has close ties to Iran and is composed of paramilitary groups that fought the "Islamic State" (IS), came in second with 47 seats.
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's Victory Alliance, widely considered a favorite going into the election, came in third with 42.
The bloc of former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who led the country from 2006 to 2014 before being relegated to one of three vice president posts, won 24 seats. Shiite cleric Ammar al-Hakim's Hikmah won 22 seats.
The rest of the seats in the 329-member parliament were taken by smaller parties and blocs, Kurdish parties and minorities.
Turnout was low at just 44.52 percent. Many Iraqis boycotted the vote out of apathy at the corrupt political elites that have run the country since the 2003 US invasion.
Negotiations to form a new government could take months, as the political blocs jockey for government posts and the patronage they bring.
Iran, which wields influence over Shiite political parties, has said it would not allow Sadr's bloc to take the prime minister position.
Despite a poor performance, Abadi could still end up as a compromise candidate.