Marc Santora reports on the latest aftermath of the collapse of the Iraqi election compromise:

After it collapsed, political leaders fell back to familiar and disturbing sectarian camps. Not only did the fighting threaten to complicate the American withdrawal, but it also recalled the bitter divisions that fueled a cycle of violence that led the country to the edge of anarchy.

It is in that context that one can understand the frenzied, almost panicked, negotiations that took place over the weekend to work out a compromise that would get the elections back on track. At one point on Sunday, Iraqi lawmakers argued over how long a day was with some saying that it ended at the close of business and others contending that it ended at midnight. (Midnight won.)

A deal was reached just minutes before midnight, but not before the political impasse had grown so deep that President Barack Obama and Vice President Joseph R. Biden had to make personal interventions to keep negotiations on track.

In the end, there are still parties not satisfied with their share, but it seems like the election will take place. When it does, the ethnic and sectarian divisions that delayed the passage of an election law could seem irrelevant. But only time will tell.

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