Iraq Election

  1. The U.S. backed “Independent Election Commission of Iraq” had the authority to not approve parties or candidates. Among the requirements for a candidate to run for office was the vague: “shall have a good reputation.” Also, candidates were required to have a secondary school diploma or the equivalent. Through the Independent Commission the United States was able to control who was allowed to run for office.
  2. Salim Lone, an adviser to Sergio Vieira de Mello, the UN envoy to post-invasion Iraq who was killed in 2003 in a bomb attack on the UN compound in Baghdad criticizes the legitimacy of the election, writing: “But as this blood-stained election shows, the complete breakdown of this plan has been one of the most colossal U.S. policy failures of the last half-century. Indeed, this is not an election that any democratic nation, or indeed any independent international electoral organization, would recognize as legitimate.
  3. According to an analysis of the elections by the Institute for Policy Studies, while “millions of Iraqis participated in the election on January 30, 2005, it is still unclear how many.  The U.S.-backed election commission in Iraq originally announced a 72% participation immediately after the polls closed, then downscaled that to “near 60%” – actually claiming about 57% turn-out.  But those figures are all still misleading.  The Washington Post reported two days after the vote that the 60% figure is based on the claim that 8 million out of 14 million eligible Iraqis turned out. But the 14 million figure itself is misleading, because it only includes those registered Iraqis, not the 18 million actually eligible voters.  Similarly, the claim of very high voter participation among Iraqi exiles is misleading, since only 280,000 or so Iraqis abroad even registered, out of about 1.2 million qualified to register and vote.”
  4. In questioning the legitimacy of the election, the Institute for Policy Studies states: The election “was held under conditions of a hostile military foreign occupation. The Hague Convention of 1907, to which the U.S. is a signatory, prohibits the occupying power from creating any permanent changes in the government of the occupied territory.  These elections were arranged under an electoral law and by an electoral commission installed and backed by the occupying power. They took place in an environment so violent that voters could not even learn the names of candidates, and the three days surrounding the vote included a complete lock-down of the country, including shoot-to-kill curfews in many areas, closure of the airport and borders, and closure of roads.”
  5. The election did not allow for adequate monitoring by journalists or international monitors. According to the Institute for Policy Studies, “International journalists were limited to five polling stations in Baghdad, four of which were in Shi’a districts with expected high turnout.” Further, “There were no international monitors in the country – unlike Afghanistan (with 122 monitors) and Palestine (with 800) during difficult elections held under occupation, Iraq was deemed too dangerous for international election monitors.”
  6. A useful historical reference to a similar election during a similar war – the Vietnam War and an election in South Vietnam in 1967. The New York Times reported: “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. A successful election has long been seen as the keystone in President Johnson’s policy of encouraging the growth of constitutional processes in South Vietnam … The purpose of the voting was to give legitimacy to the Saigon Government …”
  7. The Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq announced on February 13, 2005 that Iraq’s majority Shiite Muslims won almost half, or 48.2 percent, of the nearly 8.5 million votes cast, more than any other group but not enough to select the country’s next president and other leaders without the help of others. The vote gives the Shiite 140 of the 275 seats on the transitional national assembly.
  8. Voters chose from 111 parties as they voted for members of 18 provincial parliaments and a 275-member transitional national assembly. That assembly will be responsible for writing the country’s constitution.
  9. Summary of minor party performances:
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