Distrust and little hope for change as Iraq votes

World | 11 Oct 2021

Iraqis voted yesterday in a parliamentary election held early as a concession to an anti-government protest movement but seen as unlikely to deliver major change to the war-scarred country.

Many of the 25 million eligible voters were expected to boycott the polls amid deep distrust in a political class widely blamed for graft, unemployment and crumbling public services.

Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhemi's future hangs in the balance, with few observers willing to predict who will come out on top after the lengthy backroom haggling between major factions that usually follows Iraqi elections.

"This is an opportunity for change," the premier said, casting his ballot in Baghdad's fortified Green Zone. "Get out there and vote, change your reality, for Iraq and for your future."

But few shared the enthusiasm, even among those who queued early in the fifth election since the 2003 US-led invasion ousted dictator Saddam Hussein with the promise of bringing freedom and democracy.

The election was held under tight security in a country where the major parliamentary blocs have armed factions and Islamic State group jihadists have launched suicide attacks this year.

A new single-member constituency system for electing Iraq's 329 lawmakers is supposed to boost independents versus the traditional blocs largely centered on religious, ethnic and clan affiliations. But many analysts believe the change will be limited.


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