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Iraq: Elections Have Come and Gone

Elections have come and gone in Iraq. With reports that the day passed peacefully, the whole process could have been seen as the most boring national event after the war. Najma highlights this in a rambling post which ends with:

The day before yesterday a car bomb exploded close to our house, but we were warned and expected it so there were little damages (a single window). No human losses in the neighborhood, thank God.

Oh, I almost forgot what this post was supposed to be about :)

Yesterday I finally got to vote on something without having a fight (that something being Ninevah's Provincial Council's Elections). I was feeling dizzy, and it pretty much felt like going to an exam without studying, and I proved quite dumb at the voting room: I was about to put my ID in the voting box instead of the voting card, I didn't know which finger to put in the ink pot, and finally, I almost took the voting pen home! but I FINALLY DID IT and voted! Now I have a violet finger and it shocks me every time I see it, until I remember.

But what of impressions of the bloggers themselves?

Politics of Democracy

No Paper Tiger by Layla Anwar

I am no Communist,
nor a Marxist-Leninist,
I am no Socialist
nor a Baathist,
hardly a Nationalist
not even a Pan-Arabist
most likely than not,
a Trotskyist

I trot, alone
and I love the loneliness
the aloofness
the wilderness…

In the jungle of paper tigers
am no Maoist, either.

Labels, I study them
then rip them off
one by one…

And what a pleasure to rip them off…

Am no poet either,
the ink is dry
and the pages are crackling…
like the crackling wood
in a blazing fire…

You sit and you know
you are there,
here,
everywhere…

This where you belong
somewhere,
hanging in between,
in between the flames,

You have no race
no religion
no nationality,

You are beyond
papers,
paper tigers…

I love the humility
of being a no one,
just a lonely voice
in the cold,

Just You and I
treading along the path
a path,
with no name…

Salam Pax, the original Iraqi blogger is back to blogging and back in Iraq. He sat with his family and tried to work out who to vote for:

There are 18 provinces in Iraq and each will have it’s own council. The biggest is in Baghdad with 57 council members. The number of candidates campaigning for these seats is astounding … there are 2371 candidates just for Baghdad. The total number of candidates all over Iraq is an astonishing 14,400.

And the noise these thousands of candidates are creating is enough to make you withhold your vote just as a protest…

but all I can think is ‘who are these people?’ and I can assure you the majority of the fifteen million Iraqis who from the electorate are thinking the same.

The last two times we had legislative elections it was easier the same parties and individuals were up for election in the whole country. This time it’s different in each province. And trying to find what each of the 14 thousand candidates stands for isn’t just difficult but impossible.

If Salam found elections confusing, Last of Iraqis found them shady:

Yesterday an independent candidate called a debate program on a local Iraqi channel and discussed one of the laws which was really strange; if a list failed to achieve the required number of points then all its points will be given to the big list!!! Well, who decides which list is big and which one is small? This is absurd let's say I chose a list for secular candidates and they didn't make it, in what reason should my voice be directed to a fanatic Islamic party? What logic is this?…

Few days ago I was talking with a relative who got to read the detailed list for PM Almaliki and we really laughed a lot… In the list there is the name of the candidate, his number in the list and his higher educational level….in the field of the educational level you can see miracles one of the candidates is “doctor to-be”!!! Another is “His father is a doctor”!!! And another candidate is a real doctor (physician) but what kind of physicians he is? … Have mercy on us god

But Hammorabi was more optimistic:

This is important election which will shape the political demographic map in such different way than the previous one as the democratic process in Iraq moved towards better maturation. The Iraq citizens are now looking to give their voices to those who got better vision about services and building of a better life. This is more matured way compared to the previous election when more was given towards ethnic and sectarian issues. Every one is now looking for a change which is a good way and indicating some maturity. More or less the process went smooth with better freedom than the previous election which makes it more responsible way respecting the individual choices without pressure.

Intimidation

Two bloggers pointed to threats and intimidation by rival parties. Leila Fadel talks about three candidates that were killed before the election. She writes:

Provincial elections are on Saturday and candidates are dropping. Today three were killed. One in Mosul, another in Baghdad and one in Diyala province. It's almost expected here. Two others were killed recently as well.

In the United States this would be big news. Here it's a line in the violence report of the day. Better then other days, a huge improvement over the frightening times of more than a year ago but yet still more bloodshed.

And Fatima has a friend who is running for the Baghdad council. The day before voting a car drove by the friend's house and shot and killed her sister-in-law. Fatima writes:

These crazies need to wake up and stop their foolish game of scare tactics, death and fear mongering. They need to realize that God is not on their side, He is not on the side of violence, of death, of killing, of orphaning, of widowing, of foolishness.

Word from the street on the day of the vote

Shaggy went out to vote on the day but was sent all around his neighbourhood to find a polling station that would accept him:

Eventually we found it and were left very ticked off that they had sent us to a polling station on the opposite edge of the neighbourhood from our home whilst there were at least two that were within a moderate range.

Choosing to vote was kind of a last minute decision for me … But I don't think anyone on that list is going to get a seat anyway. What's bothering me more than that is that whilst walking from one polling station to another I noticed a sign suggesting that a bank is going to be built over a public park that's in the middle of a residential area. The park is a mess right now, but it has so much potential… It's also the place where I got high the very first time.

Saminkie enjoyed the day:

I woke up at 11:00 am. Woooow. It feels so good. I will be as lazy as I want today… I finished my coffee and took my clothes and went to vote. My name was not in the first school, nor in the second. They told me to check a third school which was little far. I went sadly and frightened that I won't find it but I found it and said with a loud voice: “Here it is!”

In the voting room I saw very beautiful women. They were all smiling. They were very very kind as if from heaven. I voted. They said: “Thank you”. I said: “thank you” with a smile and went walking. I saw many families walking happy. The father's and mother's index fingers are colored by that ink. I saw him coming. We greeted each other with kisses like Iraqis usually do. I went back with him waiting while he voted. He didn't ask me for whom I voted. Nor I did ask him. We are Iraqis with different views and this is our way to show respect to each other. We went back walking slowly and talking about memories of how our quarter was so beautiful before hoping that it will regain its charm while we were proud of our violet fingers.

And on the day of the election Caesar of Pentra was in two minds about what to do:

To be quite honest, I wasn't sure that I should vote this year for many reasons;

a. No specific candidate in mind to vote for. I'm not convinced with the majority of the parties and candidates listed in the election card.

b. Being skeptical about the integrity and impartiality of the elections. Rumors say that the last elections in 2005 there were several incidents of forgery reached a percentage of 30% of the whole voting process.

c. The curfew of the motor-vehicles, and the nearest voting center is about 2 km far.

d. I don't want that stupid ink stain to stick on my index…

Honestly, I felt that it would be a waste not to participate in such “democratic” processes. If I wanna criticize the performance of the government, the parliament, or the local councils, I should have at least participated in making the decision by voting for the side or the candidate I like. And to be more honest, I felt so f***in’ bored and it would be a great idea to walk out to get some refreshing air in such a beautiful winter sunny day.

I went to an election site and marked the same old bloc I voted for 4 years ago. They are secular but they didn't win many seats at that time. Hopefully this year they win. In fact, I hope everyone who wants to serve Iraq in real wins.

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