Prospects less than great for the Iraq provincial elections

Iraq’s next provincial elections will be held in April 2017. With the expansion and contraction of ISIS since the last held elections in 2013, many important factors will need to be discussed. Due to the difficult political and security situation in Iraq, the guidelines and exact dates for the elections have not been released.

This lack of information is somewhat distressing as these elections come a time where there is general public discontent that has been further exacerbated by the 3rd July bombings in Baghdad. This, coupled with governmental corruption, has left many people dissatisfied and there is a call for change.

This change will especially be marked in the Sunni-dominated provinces of Iraq. These regions have had the highest presence of ISIS. Due to this, there has been growing discontent, criticism and anger directed at the governorates. Areas that are still dominated by ISIS will not be having provincial elections (though refugees may be able to vote in the provinces to which they have been displaced), however, newly liberated areas such Fallujah will most likely have these elections.

Similarly, the three Kurdish dominated parts of Iraq are unlikely to take part in the elections, as in 2013. Reasons for this are due to the inherent problems in the Iraqi election process. The law that determines the outcomes of the results favours bigger parties. It states that if a certain party does not win enough votes, their seats are effectively given up. The Independent High Electoral Commission, IHEC, has called for changes to be made to this system but nothing has been legally promulgated.

These elections are more likely to divide, rather than unite the country. On top of the problems that are unresolved from the 2013 elections, there are the problems of the Sunni and Kurdish areas boycotting them for differing reasons, and then ISIS creates a new problem. The seeming lack of preparation and information makes things even more difficult and I am not very hopeful that the elections will bring about either democratic representation, nor real change in Iraq.

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