Iraq experiences an unusual election season
Political pluralism and the real diversity of the top figures and parties mark the Iraqi elections with a value that is worth appreciating
It's true that results of the previous Iraqi elections were stolen from Ayad Allawi and his bloc, which received the most votes, while his rival Nouri al-Maliki was given the right to form a coalition government. It's also true that many areas were deprived of their right to participate in last Wednesday's elections due to violence and marginalization. And it's also likely that this year's results could be ignored by granting the "most politically suitable" party the right to form a government under dirty sectarianism and Iranian orders.
Despite all current divisions and upcoming violations, Iraqi elections remain unusual given the standard of regional elections from Iran in the east to Algeria in the west. Political pluralism and the real diversity of the top figures and parties mark the Iraqi elections with a value that is worth appreciating.
The rise of a politically active society
During last Wednesday's elections, 9,000 candidates, including 2,600 women, competed for over 328 parliamentary seats. It's an amazing number that does not only represent the extent of competition but that also represents the growing interest in parliamentary representation. This responsiveness to parliamentary engagement will finally impose itself with the rise of a politically active society which will be difficult for local and foreign parties to control as they please.
Political pluralism and the real diversity of the top figures and parties mark the Iraqi elections with a value that is worth appreciating.Abdulrahman al-Rashed
We see this enthusiasm on the level of candidates and within the field of parliamentary work. It is however early to judge voters, who are the core of any future Iraqi governing institution.
The number of eligible Iraqi voters is more than 20.5 million. The electoral process would be complete and would indicate better future for Iraq if only one third of them participate while being aware of the importance of their votes. Preliminary official statistics indicate that the voter turnout was 60 percent. This is an amazing number yet some doubt it, while others consider it an exceptional case resulting from the campaign mobilization. In all cases, whether the percentage of voters is 30 percent or 60 percent, the turnout shows that people want to decide their and their children's future by voting for parliamentary representatives.
Whether results will be ignored like last time or whether the people's chosen representatives end up forming the coalition they want, what we witnessed grants hope of a better future in Iraq. We hope politicians won't spoil this as they battle over governance.
This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on May 5, 2014.
Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today.