Iraq election clouded by a disillusioned electorate
The Iraq election campaign scene last month underscored the difficulties faced by the candidates: They are telling Iraq’s disillusioned youth, the country’s largest demographic, to trust an electoral process that in the past has tainted by tampering and fraud. But apathy and distrust are widespread, and some of the same pro-reform activists whose protests in 2019 led to the vote now are calling for a boycott at the polls after a series of targeted killings.
That balloting saw a turnout of only 44% of eligible voters — a record low since the U.S.-led invasion that topped Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.
The electoral law changes fell short of demands by protesters. Activists had wanted more of the smaller districts, but after 11 months of talks, lawmakers agreed on 83, up from 18. The lines were drawn to facilitate a 25% participation quota by women for 329 parliament seats.
Calls for an election boycott rang out in particular after the slaying in Karbala this summer of prominent activist Ehab al-Wazni. There have been vocal demands for serious efforts in bringing weapons under the control of the state — a tall order in a country awash with militias and guns.