Iraq holds a general election ahead of schedule today, and 3,249 candidates will run for 329 seats in the new National Assembly. Agence France-Presse reported that the vote was hailed as a concession by the authorities to anti-government demonstrations, but many voters who do not trust officials to fulfill their reform promises are expected to boycott the election, and the turnout rate may be record low.
The holding of parliamentary elections in advance and the promotion of electoral reforms are the main commitments made by the current Prime Minister Kadimi after he took office in May 2020. In July 2020, Kadimi announced that it would advance the election of the new National Assembly originally scheduled for 2022 to June 2021. In January this year, the Iraqi government announced that it would postpone the election to October 10 for technical reasons.
The election will be held in accordance with the new National Assembly election law passed in December 2019, which allows independent candidates to stand for the first time.
The security work is not leaking, and all airports across the country have been closed from yesterday evening to tomorrow morning. Although the Iraqi government declared victory in the war against the Islamic State (IS) at the end of 2017, the Mujahideen’s secret organization of large and small attacks has never stopped.
In recent months, dozens of anti-government figures have been killed, kidnapped or intimidated. Pro-Iranian armed groups have been accused of being the masterminds behind the scenes, and many Iraqi lawmakers have colluded with them.
The United Nations Mission in Iraq stated before the start of the vote: “Iraqi people should be confident that they can vote without pressure, intimidation and threats.” The election was held one year in advance, which is a rare demonstration of youth groups. concession.
Demonstrations bloomed in Baghdad and southern Iraq in October 2019, shaking up the Shiite government that has long been in power since the United States-led coalition entered Iraq in 2003.
Tens of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets to express their dissatisfaction with corruption, unemployment, and broken public services, and hundreds of people died in the violence related to the demonstrations.
As public grievances gradually turned from boiling to disillusionment, the demonstrations are now basically gone. Experts predict that today’s election may set a record-breaking low turnout.
Mohammed Kassem, a Baghdad worker, has made up his mind not to vote. He complained: “Things will not change.” The armed forces of the established regime and the ruling elites dominated by Shia Islamism are expected to win. . The 45-year-old also told Agence France-Presse: “Iraq is the richest country in this region, but we have no electricity, no transportation, no public services, and the medical system is in a broken state.”
In addition, the head of the EU Election Observation Mission von Kramon stated that he will observe the election situation and submit a preliminary report next Tuesday (12th). The outside world generally believes that years of war and interference from external forces have led to a large number of political factions in Iraq. It remains to be seen whether the political situation can be stabilized after the election.