By the time you begin reading this polls will have opened in Iraq. In 15 other countries expatriate voting began on Tuesday.
Iraqis spent a tense and quiet night waiting for dawn. However amid warnings (proven now false) of a mass poisoning of the water system, multiple candidate assasinations, and election fraud involving falsified ballots, Iraqis still remain hopeful of this day, the day that many see as the first of many steps that will lead them to their own freedom.
The election predictions are as varied as the candidates themselves. Some Iraqis hope for a new secular government, some believe that nothing will really change with the new vote, and others chose not to care at all. Regardless, Iraqi bloggers will be there to give up to date information.
General Information on the Elections
In coordination with the Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation a “Guide to Iraqi Parties” was distributed in Iraq on the 11th and 12th of December, 2005, as a supplement to the “Al-Sabah al-Jadid” newspaper. There have been massive poster campaigns from the various candidates. If the posters haven't helped you prepare your vote, Niqash.org has an electionaire to help you find what party to vote for based on 25 questions. Here is just a small glimpse of the raw numbers involved in this election (plus a little bit of speculation):
POLL BY NUMBERS
228 parties forming
21 major alliances
15 million voters
United Iraqi Alliance Shia Muslim coalition of 17 groups. Likely to win more than 110 seats
Kurdish Alliance Coalition of eight Kurdish parties. Likely to win 50 seats
Iraqi National List Coalition of 15 parties representing Iraq’s secular middle class. Likely to win 35 seats
Iraqi Accord Front List Main Sunni Muslim party comprising 15 groups. Could get 30 seats
Security both before and after the elections is a big issue, and there are many precautions that have been taken. Borders were closed in preparation for election day and strict curfews were put on citizens in order to keep the streets clear. Increased police presense was put on polling stations.
Here is a rundown of the major players in today's election:
Unified Iraqi Coalition. Vote number 555
Is very popular in the more Southern regions of Iraq and represent the Shi'a majority. Muqtada al Sadr and Ayatollah Sheik al Sistani are the figureheads of this party and represent a strict religious platform.
Tawafoq Iraqi Front. Vote number 618
Represents the Sunni population of Iraq, it is very important to note that supporters of this party come from all ethnic bases within the country.
National Iraqi List. Vote number 731.
This is the party fronted by current President of Iraq Ayad Allawi, and poses as a secular option to government. Many Iraqis are voting for 731 as they wish to stay away from parties that have a more religious focus, and that 731 supports the current status quo.
Kurdistani Gathering. Vote number 730.
Presents itself as the dominant conglormate of all of the Kurdistani lists. Support for this party is almost entirely centered on the region of Northern Iraq.
The one thing that has stood out in viewing all of the different opinions on the election is the messages of hope for the future, regardless of political afflication or opinion of US foreign policy. Today Iraqis will give the world a proud purple finger!