An estimated 62% of the 19 million eligible voters went to the polls in Sunday's parliamentary elections – this was down from the 75% seen in the 2005 elections, but was still a very respectable turnout.
Preliminary results should be available this week, but final official results will not be declared until the end of March. The BBC reports that Mr Maliki's State of Law Coalition said it had done well, especially in Baghdad and in the Shia south of Iraq.
We can expect a period of deal-making and horse-trading while the various parties negotiate a coalition agreement – this is just a normal part of the democratic process.
"Today's voting makes it clear that the future of Iraq belongs to the people of Iraq," said the American President, Barack Obama on Sunday.