Don’t look now, but there is another big election coming up in Iraq soon, on Sunday, 7 March to be exact. It’s the second nationwide election for that new democracy since the fall of Saddam Hussein, and of course it will determine whether Nouri al-Maliki gets to stay in charge as premier.
Come to think of it, maybe you did have some inkling that something like that was about to happen, from the recent disputes you may have heard about involving attempts by the current government to disallow certain religious/political groups from standing as candidates. But this article from the Ritzau news agency in the Danish Christian newspaper Kristeligt Dagblad deals instead with the results of a recent poll among eligible Iraqi voters undertaken for the government by the Iraqi National Media Center. A total of 63% across the sample stated to the pollsters that they intended to vote. This compares unfavorably with the 79.6% that we do know turned out to vote at that first free-and-fair national election, back in 2005. The poll’s results broke down further to show that Kurds and Shi’ites revealed themselves to be rather more ready to make it to the polls on 7 March than did Sunnis.
Whoever wrote this brief piece’s headline – whether it was the Ritzau agency or the Kristeligt Dagblad – clearly showed displeasure at this news by making it read “Only two out of three Iraqis want to vote.” But wait: Infoplease tells us that only 56.8% of American voters turned out to the polls even back in November, 2008 to either elect or try to stop Obama as president! In that light, 63% looks pretty good! Then again, you can still understand the tenor of that Danish reporting when you keep in mind that Danish voter participation is always pretty high: this Wikipedia article puts it at usually around 87%.
UPDATE: If you want further confirmation that things are really going rather OK in Iraq, here’s a guest blog-post, in English, on the Foreign Policy site from someone who definitely knows what he’s talking about. Hey, 63% – those Iraqis are simply getting more American every day, that’s all!