Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki says the high turnout in parliament elections the previous day was a "slap in the face of terrorism" and militants trying to undermine the country's stability.

Thursday's remarks by al-Maliki reflected confidence that he would eventually get another term in office.

Al-Maliki's State of Law bloc was widely expected to win the most seats in the 328-member parliament but fall short of a majority — meaning he would have to cobble together a coalition.

Wednesday's voting was Iraq's first nationwide election since U.S. troops withdrew in 2011. The turnout, according to officials, was estimated to have been 60 percent, excluding volatile and militant-held areas where there was no balloting.

Election workers are counting the ballots, with first results expected in the coming days.