Sunday, January 30, 2005

Successful elections in Iraq

Is it too much to hope that this could be a turning point? Let's hope that, with an estimated 60% turnout, these elections will be as important to Iraq as the Orange revolution to Ukraine.

More questions: Is it just the filtering of Western reporters, or do most people now understand (and demand?) democracy? How does the PRC government present this to their people, who still lack the right to vote?

NYTimes: Far from taking away their instinct for asserting themselves, they seemed to be saying, the humiliations of tyranny had made them hungry for a chance to take a stand.

The point was made by another elderly Shiite, Hachim Shahir, 83, who said he had been a bricklayer for much of his life. Dressed for the occasion in a faded blue blazer, with only frayed ends of cotton where its buttons used to be, and a Bedouin's black-and-white checkered headdress, he said he could not say exactly what it was about Abdulaziz al-Hakim, the scion of a Shiite religious dynasty, that had made him vote for the United Iraqi Alliance. "How would I know?" he asked. "I cannot read or write."

But after a pause, he remembered, after all, what had drawn him to the polls, and kept him there for a long time after his two sons, men in their 50's, had urged him to quit the lengthy lines and go home. "Under Saddam we were a people who were lost", he said. "Before, we were not able to talk to officials; they were just punching you, and kicking you. But now, with elections, we'll have good officials. We will know them, and they will know us."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think the man to watch is Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. The elections were held because he wanted them. The party he has `blessed' wants foreign troops out; I am not sure that is in the Administartions' plans.

Historically, in the 20s, al-Sistani's predecessor issued a fatwa against the British occupation, leading to bloody resistance. Ultimately, after the Shiite revolt, Britain abandoned direct rule and created an Iraqi monarchy, giving the throne to King Faisal, a Sunni.

The historical lesson that the Shias drew from this is that they should first take power via elections (they are majority anyway), and then ask the occupiers to leave.

An excellent commentatator on the subject is Juan Cole of U of Michigan.


PS: Another reason it is too soon to tell:

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.

Blog Archive