Iraq held its first election since the withdrawal of International troops. The election for local councils, was carried out largely free of any violence or unrest which marks the first step in the right direction for this young democratic country.
There are still instances of corruption, violence and political problems. According to the NYTimes an disenchanted Iraqi said: “I will not be fooled again,” Haider al-Mutairy, a lawyer in Babil Province. “Nothing changed after I participated in the last elections. My street is still broken and filled with dirt, the electricity and water is still bad…”
But the majority of Iraqis did vote and showed off their fingers, stained with purple ink, as proof. “It’s my duty to come here,” said Faris Zaki, who voted in central Baghdad and brought his young daughter to the voting booths. No deaths were reported during the elections, there were unfortunately a handful of people that were wounded in explosions and mortar attacks in parts of the country.
The vote for local representatives consisted of 8,138 candidates competing for 447 seats in provincial councils. The provincial elections are a provide a barometer of the standing of the political elite ahead of next year’s parliamentary elections as local candidates are affiliated with the national parties. Winning at a local level gives national parties control of provincial governments and deepens their influence ahead of the vote. “The provincial elections are like the preseason,” said Ramzy Mardini, a fellow at the Iraq Institute for Strategic Studies. “They gauge the viability of the parties, and the alliance configurations.”
For the provinces that voted, the turnout was around 50% about the same as the overall turnout for the 2009 local elections, but lower than the 62 percent during national elections in 2010. “We consider this percentage very high considering what we are living with these days,” said Mukdad al-Sharifi, an election official, at a press conference Saturday evening in Baghdad.