MESOPOTAMIA NEWS ANALYSIS IRAQI ELECTIONS : May 2018 Elections Triumph For Iraqi Democracy Failure Iraq’s Parties
Early results from the Iraq Election Commission showed the lowest turnout since elections began in 2005. The Commission reported that 44% of the 24 million registered voterstook part in the balloting. Previously, January 2005 had the smallest voter participation rate at 57% due to the Sunni boycott. In the last two elections in 2010and 201462% turned out both times.
The main reason for the disappointing results was widespread cynicism about the Iraqi parties. The 2018 electionswere differentfrom previous years because many lists ran candidates across ethnosectarian lines, touted reform, and brought up Iraqi nationalism. Despite that the same parties and figures were at the heads of the lists, those running for office were largely well known party members, and there were no real platforms laying out how exactly the politicians were going to change Iraq besides platitudes in speeches. The Iraqi public wanted something different than more of the same. There were even campaignson social media to boycott the vote as a result. Those feelings apparently won out as seen in the turnout numbers. At the same time, that mood could mean parties that actually presented a change from the status quo could do better than expected. Some examples are Sairoon, which was Moqtada al-Sadr’s list with the Communists and New Generation, which ran in Kurdistan. Sairoon for instance ran all new candidates banningSadr’s Ahrar bloc from putting up candidates. The biggest loser could be Prime Minister Haidar Abadi. While he is still expected to win a plurality of seats in parliament, his campaign based upon being a national Iraqi list obviously failed to bring out the numbers he was hoping for as this will be the first government formed without a majority of possible voters supporting it. That might also make it harder for him to carry out his policies since he can’t claim he had a real mandate from the public. This may be mediated if he picks up seats in Sunni areas, which will allow him to say he has a broader base than his competitors.
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