A heartfelt congratulations to the nation of Iraq for holding an election that, by virtually all accounts, appears to have been a resounding success (Daniel Drezner does a good job summing up preliminary coverage). It is quite obvious that this is a major victory against the insurgency, and all those who want to see a stable, and successful Iraq should applaud it.
However, our job is nowhere near done. The most important aspect of a democracy is not the first election, but the second, because that will show if government's will voluntarily cede power. Spencer Ackerman notes that "we've already seen a day of tremendous possibility, high Iraqi expectations, and hope that finally the accumulated wounds of 30 years of tyranny were ready for healing. It came on June 28 with the transfer of sovereignty, and by the next month it was squandered." There is a lot of potential behind these elections, but with expectations so high there is a lot of room to fall as well. And of course, assuming that the UIA wins the election (either outright or via coalition), we still have to deal with the Sistani/Sadr brawl which looks like it might be developing.
All of this notwithstanding, this was a historic day. We should all congratulate the Iraqi people on conducting what appears to have been a free, fair, and relatively violence-free voting process. May their democratic future be bright.