Democratic elections in Iraq occurred with little protest this past winter. Jan. 31 marked Iraq’s second election since U.S. occupation began in 2003.
According to BBC News, after the elections in Iraq, President Barack Obama was noted as saying that the ability to vote for the Iraqi people was “an important step forward.”
Although it has been said that the elections took place without too much protest, stability in Iraq is still a long way off.
In an article from the New York Times, staff writer Steven Lee Myers said, “The transition from insurgency to politics to governance – a key to stabilizing the country after six years of war – has proved to be anything but steady and sure.”
A key tenet of democracy is the citizens’ ability to vote in free and fair elections. Some aspects of the recent elections in Iraq directly contradict that, with post-election accusations that the Islamic Party was entering additional votes to ballot boxes.
According to Myer’s article, “Party leaders denied any fraud, though one foreign election observer said the complaints had some legitimacy.” This is an example of an issue that needs to be worked out in the slowly growing democracy in Iraq.
In an impressive turnout, “More than 14,000 candidates from 400 political parties and lists took part in the elections last Saturday,” according to the New York Times.
The winner for the seat of prime minister is Nuri Kamal al-Maliki. As a member of the Dawa party, “The prime minister’s bloc trounced its longtime rival for Shiite dominance, the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council,” according to the Los Angeles Times.
The prime minister plays the role of the head of government, while there is also a president and uni-cameral Council of Representatives with 275 seats.
According to CNN, a number of Al-Maliki’s party members “came in first in nine of 14 provinces,” meaning that “the results represent defeat for al-Maliki’s rivals, the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, the most powerful Shiite party in the present government, and the followers of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, long popular in Baghdad’s slums and the Shiite heartland.”
This could mean big changes for Iraq in the near future. However, according to the Los Angeles Times, these changes seem to be positive for now: “The relatively peaceful election and the clear preference among voters for secular leadership suggest that democracy is taking hold from the ground up, rather than top down.”
Ground up leadership has been lacking, and hopefully the institution of this new democratic system will help that burgeon in the future.
According to the Los Angeles Times, “For Washington, the results represented a positive outcome that could undergird the Obama administration’s case for faster troop withdrawals.”
The news seems positive for now, although the future is still very uncertain for Iraq. In an interview with CNN, Zakaria seemed to concur with President Obama’s statement made shortly after the election: “There are big challenges ahead but last week there was something rare – good news out of Iraq.”
CNN.com; NYTimes.com; Electionguide.org; News.bbc.co.uk;