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Iraq's provincial elections gave the country's political process a new impetus and millions of Iraqis hope of better days ahead.

While it is premature to talk of spectacular change in the political landscape, the grip of the religiously-based parties has been loosened and Nouri al-Maliki, the prime minister, has surged ahead of his rivals.

Political observers predict that if secular and nationalist parties succeed in creating a progressive block, Iraq will then be on the road to democracy and will reclaim its seven decades of secular progress.

Our guests this week - Maysoon Aldamuji, an Iraqi member of parliament, and Mundher Adhami, a researcher at London's King's College - discuss this prospect.

This episode of Inside Iraq aired from Friday, February 6, 2009.

Source: Al Jazeera