Oct 10, 2021 - World

Iraq holds parliamentary election

Iraqi voters cast their ballots at a polling station in the country's early general election in Sulaymaniyah, Iraq on October 10, 2021

Iraqi voters cast their ballots at a polling station in the country's early general election in Sulaymaniyah, Iraq, on Oct. 10. Photo: Fariq Faraj Mahmood/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Iraq on Sunday held an election to establish a parliament, a move many residents hope will result in reforms and change, AP reports.

Why it matters: The election, originally scheduled for next year, was pushed forward after a massive anti-government protest in the capital of Baghdad two years ago, during which thousands of people were injured and hundreds died.

  • 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 the vote, per AP.
  • Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi advocated for citizens to participate in the election, saying, "Get out and vote, and change your reality for the sake of Iraq and your future."

The election will see 3,449 candidates challenging for 329 seats. It is the sixth election since the fall of Saddam Hussein after the U.S.-led invasion of the country in 2003.

Between the lines: Many of the young activists whose 2019 demonstrations catalyzed the early election later called for a boycott of the vote, claiming a corrupt process, per AP. A series of kidnappings and assassinations has also discouraged turnout.

  • Officials have urged people to vote in masses, fearing the election could see turnout numbers as low or lower than in 2018, when just 44% of those eligible voters cast a ballot.

What they're saying: "I voted because there needs to be change. I don't want these same faces and same parties to return," Amir Fadel, an Iraqi citizen, told AP.

  • "I came since early morning to be the first voter to participate in an event that will hopefully bring change," said Abu Abdullah, of the Iraqi city of Kirkuk, per Reuters. "We expect the situation to improve significantly."
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