Sunday, February 6, 2005
Analysis of Iraqi vote
Some of the points, which are analysed in the complete article: Democracy At Gunpoint
* Iraq's voter turnout revised from 72 per cent to 60 per cent. This isn't the final figure, and could change after the counting of votes.
* High voter turnout in the southern Shia and northern Kurd areas
* Nearly 80 per cent of Sunnis boycotted the election. Some polling stations in Sunni areas didn't even open.
* Threats of denying monthly food rations scared many into voting
* At places the turnout was far in excess of registered voters
"With an estimated 80 per cent of the Sunni population boycotting the election, many Iraqis remain sceptical of the upcoming governmental process. The new National Assembly will produce a constitution that will then be held to a referendum by October 15 this year. By December 15, elections will again be held to select a new government. "You have democracy and then you have an election," said Khalid, an unemployed engineer in central Baghdad. "You cannot hold an election like this and then say this is democracy."
Yet what this forced election has done is reverse decades of political dominance by the Sunni Arabs. Due to their boycotts and the strong Shia and Kurd turnout, the latter will most likely win the most seats in the National Assembly, and to that extent have the power to pursue their separate agendas. Living amidst a shattered state, untenable unemployment, dismal infrastructure and a security scenario that still reeks of war, many Iraqis have still voted, despite ethnic and sectarian influences, in the hope the election will lead to a better future. Yet the violence continues. On election day itself nine suicide-bombers and frequent mortar attacks left at least 40 Iraqis dead and hundreds wounded by the time polling stations shut down at 5 pm. The election has not provided answers, it has only raised more questions. And none bigger than this: is this the beginning of democracy or the beginning of the end of Iraq as we know it?"
Dahr Jamail is an independent American journalist, who's been reporting out of Iraq for eight months of the occupation. He writes regularly for the Inter Press Service.