Iraq held elections to establish a parliament on Sunday, a move many residents hope will result in reform and change, AP reports.
why it matters: The election, originally scheduled for next year, was preceded by a large anti-government protest in the capital Baghdad two years earlier, during which thousands were injured and hundreds were killed.
- It is the first time Iraq is using biometric cards for voters – a measure to ensure the integrity of the election. More than 250,000 security personnel were tasked with securing votes per AP.
- Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi urged citizens to participate in the election, saying, “Get out and vote, and change your reality for Iraq and your future.”
3,449 candidates will contest for 329 seats in the election. It is the sixth election since the fall of Saddam Hussein after the US-led invasion of the country in 2003.
Between the lines: Several youth activists whose 2019 demonstrations catalysed an early election later called for a boycott of the vote, claiming a corrupt process, per AP. A series of kidnappings and murders have also discouraged voting.
- Officials are urging people to vote in public, fearing that the turnout in the election could be as high or lower than in 2018, when only 44% of those eligible voters voted.
What are they saying: “I voted because change is needed. I don’t want these same faces and same parties to come back.”
- “I have come since morning to be the first voter to participate in an event that will hopefully bring about change,” said Abu Abdullah from the Iraqi city of Kirkuk. Reuters. “We expect the situation to improve significantly.”