iraqis turn out vote in large numbers

zimv20

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BAGHDAD, Iraq, Jan. 30 - After a slow start, voters turned out in very large numbers in Baghdad today, packing polling places and creating a party atmosphere in the streets as Iraqis here and nationwide turned out to cast ballots in the country's first free elections in 50 years.

American officials were showing confidence that today was going to be a big success, despite attacks in Baghdad and other parts of the country that took at least two dozen lives. The Interior Ministry said 36 people had been killed in attacks, Agence France-Presse reported.

But the violence did not seem to have deterred most Iraqis.

The chairman of the Independent Election Commission of Iraq, Fareed Ayar, said as many as 8 million people turned out to vote, or between 55 percent and 60 percent of those registered to cast ballots. If 8 million turns out to be the final figure, that would represent 57 percent of voters.

(more)
i found this pretty heartening. the next steps will indeed be interesting.
 

blackfox

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yeah, I read about the beginning of the Election day last night before bed, and although turnout was pretty good in the Kurdish North and Shia South, many Baghdad/Sunni Triangle area polling stations were empty. So I had my reservations. This is good news.

I may not agree with the policies that brought us to this point, but I have no interest in things going even worse for the average Iraqi to prove a political point.

I shall keep tabs, whatever the ultimate practical significance of this election, god bless those Iraqis for embracing the process in the face of uncertain violence.
 

Thomas Veil

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Feb 14, 2004
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Damn, you beat me to posting this topic by fifteen minutes.

Well, I've got nothing else to add (I'm heartened too), but I do wonder: when this 275-member national assembly is convened to write the country's constitution and elect a president, how will they be protected? What's to prevent the insurgents from launching a rocket right into wherever they are meeting, killing many newly-elected Iraqi officials with one strike?

Anyway, it's good to see that things are going well so far.
 

LethalWolfe

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Jan 11, 2002
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blackfox said:
I shall keep tabs, whatever the ultimate practical significance of this election, god bless those Iraqis for embracing the process in the face of uncertain violence.
I completely agree.


Slight thread fork...

How many Americans do you think would turn out to vote under similar conditions?

Granted the last election brought out the biggest turn out in decades, but overall I'm still saddend by the complacincy<sp?> and laziness that exists in America in regards to voting. Iraq's suffered thru months of intense violence and still turned out to vote while many Americans can't be bothered to spend a few minutes filling out a reg card and going to the polls.

Seeing interviews w/Iraqs (both in and out of ths US) so over-joyed about being able to vote in the election got me thinking abou this.

/Thread fork


Lethal
 

zimv20

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lethal -- i feel we take our democracy for granted. further, i think this will be our undoing.
 

blackfox

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LethalWolfe said:
I completely agree.


Slight thread fork...

How many Americans do you think would turn out to vote under similar conditions?

Granted the last election brought out the biggest turn out in decades, but overall I'm still saddend by the complacincy<sp?> and laziness that exists in America in regards to voting. Iraq's suffered thru months of intense violence and still turned out to vote while many Americans can't be bothered to spend a few minutes filling out a reg card and going to the polls.

Seeing interviews w/Iraqs (both in and out of ths US) so over-joyed about being able to vote in the election got me thinking abou this.

/Thread fork


Lethal
Lethal, your post got me to thinking about Americans under similar circumstances as the Iraqis. Unfortunately, there is no real comparative period, as the first Elections in the newly formed US have no information on voter turnout and as far as Presidential Elections went, the electoral votes were doled out by the legislatures, not the people's votes.

I did notice that between 1840-1900, the US enjoyed the highest voter turnout ever, always above 70%, often above 85% (this was, of course limited to males, and only white males in the South).

This was, of course, the period up to, during, and after the Civil War, so people did have a vested interest in politics. There used to be quite alot of fanfare and party-propaganda thrown around. The Republican Party formed during this period. It is curious how different the GOP and Democrats are now, as the GOP began with calls for bigger government to help the economy and also for the freedom of blacks, while the Democrats supported smaller government and state's rights, which caused them to side with the South on the slavery issue.

In any case, during that period, the parties were for the most part identical on platform issues, and voter party loyalty was nevertheless high. The real differences were in constituencies, with the GOP having the evangelical protestant base, and the Democrats having the Roman Catholic, Methodist and other non-evangelical Christians as theirs, due largely to their belief that government should not regulate individual behavior and religious belief. They also had the support of the South, due to state's rights issues, both before the CW, and during reconstruction.

I suppose some parallels could be drawn between this period, and the partisanship based on religious affiliation, and Iraq today.

It should be noted, that despite relative apathy by today's voters (US), in the early 1800's, voter turnout was abyssmal, with only 26% of voter turnout for the 1824 Election, and in 1820, when Adams ran virtually unopposed and voter turnout was around 1%. So, I have little doubt that when more and more issues become deeply personal to individual voters, turnout will once again increase.
 

Dont Hurt Me

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Dec 21, 2002
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This is a good sign that people are interested in their country. I had my doubts about the Iraqi people. This is good news I saw 57% earlier so this is great. Its up to the Iraqi's to chart their future. As much as i cant stand George these days he is giving this country something it did not have before. Now can a true democracy take shape or will another Saddam come and remove the peoples voice. Sort of like Putin in Russia? Soon any sign of democracy will be gone in that country and its back to the same old scheme of tyrants wanting to control everyone's voice. I wonder.
 

IJ Reilly

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Jul 16, 2002
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Good questions. The Sunni population will be underrepresented in the new national assembly, which is bound to lead to deeper resentment. What happens in response to the lopsided power arrangement will depend on the wisdom of the new government, such as it is. In a country without a tradition of democracy and pluralism, it's difficult to be overly optimistic.
 

skunk

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Jun 29, 2002
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This Election Will Change the World. But Not in the Way the Americans Imagined
****By Robert Fisk
****The Independent U.K.

****Saturday 29 January 2005

****Shias are about to inherit Iraq, but the election tomorrow that will bring them to power is creating deep fears among the Arab kings and dictators of the Middle East that their Sunni leadership is under threat.

****America has insisted on these elections - which will produce a largely Shia parliament representing Iraq's largest religious community - because they are supposed to provide an exit strategy for embattled US forces, but they seem set to change the geopolitical map of the Arab world in ways the Americans could never have imagined. For George Bush and Tony Blair this is the law of unintended consequences writ large.

****Amid curfews, frontier closures and country-wide travel restrictions, voting in Iraq will begin tomorrow under the threat of Osama bin Laden's ruling that the poll represents an "apostasy". Voting started among expatriate Iraqis yesterday in Britain, the US, Sweden, Syria and other countries, but the turnout was much smaller than expected.

****The Americans have talked up the possibility of massive bloodshed tomorrow and US intelligence authorities have warned embassy staff in Baghdad that insurgents may have been "saving up" suicide bombers for mass attacks on polling stations.

****But outside Iraq, Arab leaders are talking of a Shia "Crescent" that will run from Iran through Iraq to Lebanon via Syria, whose Alawite leadership forms a branch of Shia Islam. The underdogs of the Middle East, repressed under the Ottomans, the British and then the pro-Western dictators of the region, will be a new and potent political force.

****While Shia political parties in Iraq have promised that they will not demand an Islamic republic - their speeches suggest that they have no desire to recreate the Iranian revolution in their country - their inevitable victory in an election that Iraq's Sunnis will largely boycott mean that this country will become the first Arab nation to be led by Shias.

****On the surface, this may not be apparent; Iyad Allawi, the former CIA agent and current Shia "interim" Prime Minister, is widely tipped as the only viable choice for the next prime minister - but the kings and emirs of the Gulf are facing the prospect with trepidation.

****In Bahrain, a Sunni monarchy rules over a Shia majority that staged a mini-insurrection in the 1990s. Saudi Arabia has long treated its Shia minority with suspicion and repression.

****In the Arab world, they say that God favoured the Shia with oil. Shias live above the richest oil reserves in Saudi Arabia and upon some of the Kuwaiti oil fields. Apart from Mosul, Iraqi Shias live almost exclusively amid their own country's massive oil fields. Iran's oil wealth is controlled by the country's overwhelming Shia majority.

****What does all this presage for the Sunni potentates of the Arabian peninsula? Iraq's new national assembly and the next interim government it selects will empower Shias throughout the region, inviting them to question why they too cannot be given a fair share of their country's decision-making.

****The Americans originally feared that parliamentary elections in Iraq would create a Shia Islamic republic and made inevitable - and unnecessary - warnings to Iran not to interfere in Iraq. But now they are far more frightened that without elections the 60 per cent Shia community would join the Sunni insurgency.

****Tomorrow's poll is thus, for the Americans, a means to an end, a way of claiming that - while Iraq may not have become the stable, liberal democracy they claimed they would create - it has started its journey on the way to Western-style freedom and that American forces can leave.

****Few in Iraq believe that these elections will end the insurgency, let alone bring peace and stability. By holding the poll now - when the Shias, who are not fighting the Americans, are voting while the Sunnis, who are fighting the Americans, are not - the elections can only sharpen the divisions between the country's two largest communities.

****While Washington had clearly not envisaged the results of its invasion in this way, its demand for "democracy" is now moving the tectonic plates of the Middle East in a new and uncertain direction. The Arab states outside the Shia "Crescent" fear Shia political power even more than they are frightened by genuine democracy.

****No wonder, then, King Abdullah of Jordan is warning that this could destabilise the Gulf and pose a "challenge" to the United States. This may also account for the tolerant attitude of Jordan towards the insurgency, many of whose leaders freely cross the border with Iraq.

****The American claim that they move secretly from Syria into Iraq appears largely false; the men who run the rebellion against US rule in Iraq are not likely to smuggle themselves across the Syrian-Iraqi desert when they can travel "legally" across the Jordanian border.

****Tomorrow's election may be bloody. It may well produce a parliament so top-heavy with Shia candidates that the Americans will be tempted to "top up" the Sunni assembly members by choosing some of their own, who will inevitably be accused of collaboration. But it will establish Shia power in Iraq - and in the wider Arab world - for the first time since the great split between Sunnis and Shias that followed the death of the Prophet Muhammad.​

I think this is only the beginning of a new problem.
 

blackfox

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skunk said:
[/indent]

I think this is only the beginning of a new problem.
Just had to be a wet blanket, didn't we?

problem or not, shias probably deserve power commensurate with their numbers, regardless of the instability it might cause.

right?
 

skunk

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blackfox said:
Just had to be a wet blanket, didn't we?

problem or not, shias probably deserve power commensurate with their numbers, regardless of the instability it might cause.

right?
I agree. But I foresee civil war.
 

Thomas Veil

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skunk said:
I agree. But I foresee civil war.
*****Could be, but as the article itself implies, we're moving into uncharted territory here. A lot depends on how the inevitable Shia majority treats the Sunnis (and the Kurds as well). If things go badly, then yes, you could see a civil war, possibly also involving neighboring countries with Sunni majorities.

OTOH, countries like Saudi Arabia have been slowly -- verrrrrrry slowly -- inching towards western-style reforms of their own. It's possible this thing could swing Bush's way, and actually act as a catalyst to inspire changes to come faster.

One thing's for sure: somebody's going to be pissed off. The one commodity that flows even more abundantly than oil in that part of the world is testosterone. And while I think it's wise to watch out for the consequences that that article describes, I think it's too early to worry about anything in particular yet. Let's see how things go. Osama f---ing bin Laden can make "rulings" all he wants, but ultimately the people will decide which way they want to go.

(Oh, and sorry...I just couldn't resist the little asterisks. ;) )
 

3rdpath

macrumors 68000
i'll further spread the wet blanket:

as much as i think the voter turn-out is impressive( chip, i believe the 10% figure was for iraqi's voting in the u.s.), there's going to be a large part of the population that will feel unrepresented. also, after the vote is tallied the electricity still won't work, water will still not flow and death and destruction will still permeate the landscape. the continuing hellish conditions will undermine whatever success democracy may represent.

i believe the military term for iraq is FUBAR.
 

miloblithe

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The turnout is based on 14 million eligible voters. I guess that sounds about right. 12 million are under 18? (or ineligible for some reason).
 

solvs

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Give us a better candidate (or 2), and we will vote more.

I am hoping things turn out well there.

I don't believe the ends justify the means, but contrary to popular belief just because we don't support the way this war was waged, it doesn't mean we don't hope things turn out well in the long run. I hope they can vote, and we can get out as soon as possible before this gets worse, even if people start calling it a win for this administration. I just can't help feeling that this would have been a moot point if they had been smarter about this. Many of us had doubts about what Clinton did in Bosnia and Kosovo, but since things went so smoothly there, there wasn't much time to bother protesting.

I'm just afraid this is all going to turn out bad for us somehow. Well, worse since it's already gotten so bad. I just don't understand why we didn't finish up in Afganistan first. A win there would have made it easier to justify Iraq.

Guess the 'stans didn't have enough oil.
 

mactastic

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38 year old news, but relevant nonetheless...
U.S. Encouraged by Vietnam Vote :
Officials Cite 83% Turnout Despite Vietcong Terror

by Peter Grose, Special to the New York Times (9/4/1967: p. 2)

WASHINGTON, Sept. 3-- United States officials were surprised and heartened today at the size of turnout in South Vietnam's presidential election despite a Vietcong terrorist campaign to disrupt the voting.

According to reports from Saigon, 83 per cent of the 5.85 million registered voters cast their ballots yesterday. Many of them risked reprisals threatened by the Vietcong.

The size of the popular vote and the inability of the Vietcong to destroy the election machinery were the two salient facts in a preliminary assessment of the nation election based on the incomplete returns reaching here.
 

jadam

macrumors 6502a
Jan 23, 2002
699
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We were just talking about this in my politics class today. But as far as representation for the sunnis is concerned, in order for the constitution not to be ratified, a minimum number of 3 provinces(or was it 2?) would have to not sign on it. Since this is the case, the constitution can not be passed unless it pleases the sunnis, the kurds, and the shias.
 

diamond geezer

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Jan 26, 2004
156
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Just a Blog, but

BAGHDAD, Jan 31 (IPS) - Voting in Baghdad was linked with receipt of food rations, several voters said after the Sunday poll.

Many Iraqis said Monday that their names were marked on a list provided by the government agency that provides monthly food rations before they were allowed to vote.

”I went to the voting centre and gave my name and district where I lived to a man,” said Wassif Hamsa, a 32-year-old journalist who lives in the predominantly Shia area Janila in Baghdad. ”This man then sent me to the person who distributed my monthly food ration.”

Mohammed Ra'ad, an engineering student who lives in the Baya'a district of the capital city reported a similar experience.

Ra'ad, 23, said he saw the man who distributed monthly food rations in his district at his polling station. ”The food dealer, who I know personally of course, took my name and those of my family who were voting,” he said. ”Only then did I get my ballot and was allowed to vote.”

”Two of the food dealers I know told me personally that our food rations would be withheld if we did not vote,” said Saeed Jodhet, a 21-year-old engineering student who voted in the Hay al-Jihad district of Baghdad.

There has been no official indication that Iraqis who did not vote would not receive their monthly food rations.

Many Iraqis had expressed fears before the election that their monthly food rations would be cut if they did not vote. They said they had to sign voter registration forms in order to pick up their food supplies.

Their experiences on the day of polling have underscored many of their concerns about questionable methods used by the U.S.-backed Iraqi interim government to increase voter turnout.

Just days before the election, 52 year-old Amin Hajar who owns an auto garage in central Baghdad had said: ”I'll vote because I can't afford to have my food ration cut...if that happened, me and my family would starve to death.”

Hajar told IPS that when he picked up his monthly food ration recently, he was forced to sign a form stating that he had picked up his voter registration. He had feared that the government would use this information to track those who did not vote.

Calls to the Independent Electoral Commission for Iraq (IECI) and to the Ministry of Trade, which is responsible for the distribution of the monthly food ration, were not returned.

Other questions have arisen over methods to persuade people to vote. U.S. troops tried to coax voters in Ramadi, capital city of the al-Anbar province west of Baghdad to come out to vote, AP reported.
Still, it's illegal not to vote in Aussie
 

Desertrat

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Jul 4, 2003
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zim, I don't doubt there was some of this sort of thing. I doubt it was widespread. Certainly it wasn't any US doing, given the number of newsies running around hunting stories. I can see some Iraqi in a position of authority of some sort thinking, "They want people to vote? I know how to get them to vote!"

I guess it's one of those "Can't have it both ways." deals: There has been a lot of negative commentary coming out of Iraq during this last year. Okay, fine. But, so far, the "man in the street" interviews by some of these same newsies show happiness about the election. I don't think these newspeople were lying in the past and telling the truth now; nor do I believe they were telling the truth in the past and lying, now.

'Rat
 

zimv20

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Desertrat said:
given the number of newsies running around hunting stories.
everything i've read and seen about reporting in iraq paints a picture of journalists holed up in their hotels, relying on military reports and hearsay to do their reporting. when the journalists do venture out, they're embedded and what they see and where they go is tightly controlled.

i fear mr. cheney has gotten his wish wrt reporters in a war zone -- at first glance, they appear to have a lot of latitude, but in reality, what they report is what the pentagon wants them to report.

consider an exception, like seymour hersh. how seriously is he taken and what sort of nod does he get from the larger news outlets?