Iraq’s election day

There was tension and anger in Iraq Monday, accusations of voter fraud, concerns about voter turnout and claims of victory when official tallies had not yet been released.

In short, Iraq in 2009 sounds like many representative democracies around the world, including the United States.

Iraq held its provincial elections Saturday without violence, just typical political rhetoric.

What’s more, overtly religious political groups appear to have lost ground in both Sunni and Shiite regions of the county.

As always with progress in Iraq, there is no guarantee that the gains achieved will last. Some tribal leaders in Western Iraq were threatening violence Monday if the Sunni religious Iraqi Islamic Party maintains its grip on power in the region. The IIP appeared to have lost a great deal of the support it once had, but still claimed it won in Saturday’s balloting.

And some observers fear the election could help Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki consolidate power and become a typical Mideast strongman.

But groups that sat out the first provincial elections in 2005 were actively involved this time.

Also, 4,000 women were among the candidates for provincial office, some of them challenging fundamentalist Muslims who believe women should have no role in politics.
Iraqis are taking charge of their own destiny, and that’s great news, regardless what one believes about the events, beginning in 2003, that led up to this point.


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