Foreign Policy Blogs

Iraqi Elections Underway

The parliamentary elections in Iraq are taking place today — another major step for the Iraqi people and their government.  But there have been roadblocks.  Reports of violence relating to the elections have been scattered throughout media outlets this week and last.  But Iraqis have ventured out, deciding that boycotting the elections only serves to weaken their resolve for a strong government.

The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace has been analyzing the elections and published an article outlining the efforts, and issues, in Iraqi Politics.  They report that the political parties have been verbally attacking their competitors and using the same symbols to propel their ideals.  For example, the major Shi’a religious party, the Iraqi National Alliance (INA) and individuals running with the supposedly secular Iraqi National Movements have all used Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani’s picture during their campaigns.  Although al-Sistani has long been the face for democracy — advocating for a system similar to that of the U.S. since before Saddam was ousted — he has avoided backing any particular party, simply publicizing his hope for honest and capable candidates.

The Carnegie article describes the dismal outlook for fraudulent ballots.  Each political party is asserting that fraud will be a problem, but no one specifies a certain group that may be seen as responsible.  The INA stated that they actually have proof of 800,000 false names on voter lists.  And what’s worse, this article asserts that allegations of fraud will allow each group to ‘cry foul’ if their desired outcome is not achieved.

Of the major parties running, the following are basic campaign platforms (for more information and details, please visit the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s Iraqi Elections website):

The State of Law Coalition, head by the current Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, asserts that it has succeeded in restoring security, but that Ba’athists still remain a danger and it is necessary to continue the harsh stance against their ideals and tactics.  Al-Maliki’s party is also alleging that the opposition is unfairly attacking the party, including through the use of terror to undermine the claim that security has been restored.  They are also emphasizing their non-sectarian ideals and al-Maliki announced that he intends to align with Kurdish parties and the Iraqi National Alliance.

The Iraqi National Alliance is a Shi’a political party and is attempting to distance themselves from the al-Maliki government.  The INA seeks to use al-Sistani’s influence, which includes emphasizing educational and professional qualifications of the candidates running.  The party is publicizing its intent to improve charity organizations, especially fighting poverty with oil revenues.  The INA is also alleging corruption in the current government and a lack of ‘transparency’.

The Iraqi National Movement (Iraqiya) is campaigning on a nationalist theme, emphasizing a new foreign policy with strong ties to neighboring countries.  They claim that they’ve been attacked as part of a smear campaign, trying to dodge harassment and even assassination attempts.  They’ve spoken to developing ties with neighbors but warn against one country obtaining more power than the rest, particularly in the case of Iran.  They have also alleged corruption in the current government.

The United Iraqi Alliance (UIA) is non-sectarian and is emphasizing the role its members have had in quelling the past violence.  They’re coming at the election as an underdog without much financing.

The Iraqi Accord (Tawafuq) party is mainly emphasizing its independence from a government coalition and how they will prevent government abuse, rather than stating what they would do if elected to power.  They compete directly with the Iraqi National Movement and the Unity Alliance of Iraq for Sunni votes and have accused secularists associated with the INM party of being responsible for many of the country’s problems.  They claim to have played a role in curbing government corruption.

The Kurdish province houses a variety of political parties: the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan have allied to run as the Kurdish Alliance, who are bitter rivals with the Gorran (Change) party.  The Kurdish Alliance is stressing economic development of Kurdistan, an increase in oil production and profits, concern for other ethnic groups — particularly a Kurdish-Arab brotherhood in Mosul — and the PUK emphasizes that Jalal Talabani should be re-elected President.  The Gorran party is emphasizing a nation-building role focusing on regional as well as national issues.  They want to dispel the negative views of Iraqis toward Kurds and promote unity to fight corruption.

Also present in the campaign is Moqtada al-Sadr and his following, who are mainly focused on expelling the U.S. presence from the country.



Jennifer Bushaw

Jennifer Bushaw holds an MA from the University of Chicago in Middle Eastern Studies with an emphasis on policy. She focused her research, including her Thesis, on modern Iraq and the Iraq war. She also has a Bachelor's in History from the University of Michigan. Jennifer is currently working as an Investigative Research Associate for a security advisory and management firm in Chicago, Illinois.

Areas of Focus:
Iraq-US Policy; Security; Coalition Operations;