Undeterred by Violence, Iraq Votes

On March 7, 2010, Iraqi citizens steadily arrived at the polls, amid a sustained campaign of bombings, to cast their votes for a parliamentary election. The determination of the voting population, especially considering the violence and the youth and fragility of their democratic roots, was notable, when voter turnout in many Western countries is dictated by frivolous circumstances such as the weather. The Guardian considered the vote a step forward toward a future of self-determination, though contention over the election results might throw this into doubt.

The State of Law Alliance, headed by current Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki, won 89 seats in Parliament, slightly behind the 91 seats won by the Iraqi National Movement, led by former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi. In the wake of such a close vote tally, Prime Minister Al-Maliki and the current president, Jalal Talabani, have publicly endorsed a recount, as reported by the New York Times. A recount, however, could prove to be quite difficult and plunge the country back into an atmosphere of contention and volatility, as illustrated in an article by the BBC. Regardless of whether Iraqi judges deem a recount necessary, the road to establishing a legitimate government, one that was determined by the people, will be both long and treacherous according to the Economist.

A positive election signals a move towards Iraqi sovereignty, which could result in further US troop withdrawals. In light of a successful election, the top US General has declared that President Obama’s plan to remove US troops from Iraq by September 1st is progressing on time. While there still remains a great amount of work to be carried out before Iraq can viably stand on its own, this election was a tremendous milestone, both for the stability of the country and for its demonstration of a democratic Iraqi future.

Recommended Articles

Advanced Article: The Christian Science Monitor: Iraq Election: Will Prime Minister Maliki Lose his Job?

Intermediate Article: New York Times: In Iraq, Even a Vote Hints at Violence

Beginner Article: BBC News: Guide to Groups Competing in Iraq

Multimedia

PBS NewsHour: Gen. Odierno: ‘People of Iraq Have Embraced Democracy’

Al-Jazeera: Iraq Election 2010

Link TV: Iraq: Elections But No Stability

Discussion Questions

  1. What power is accorded the Iraqi coalition that garners the most votes?
  2. How would a change in governing party impact US-Iraq relations?  How would a change alter the relationship between the US armed forces and the Iraqi government?
  3. Approximately what percentage of the Iraqi population cast a ballot in this parliamentary election? How does this number compare with other voter turnout percentages around the world?
  4. What other countries in the region extend the right to vote to their citizens?
  5. Do you think the relative success of the Iraqi election portends a clear path toward a democratic future? Why or why not?

Curriculum

  1. PBS NewsHour: Analyzing U.S. Policy in Iraq
  2. Choices Program: Conflict in Iraq: Confronting Policy Alternatives
  3. National Geographic: Daily Life in the Middle East

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