Will Iraqis Boycott the Next Election?
Al-Mada, Iraq, June 11
The 2021 Iraqi parliamentary elections are scheduled to take place in October. Will the scenario we witnessed in the previous elections of 2018 be repeated? Will Iraqis boycott the election en masse? Some might ask: Why not encourage the practice of democracy that takes place in most countries of the developed world? Why not vote? Gentlemen, I, like all Iraqis, dream of real change, but what our politicians are practicing cannot be described as “democracy.” Our political system is not much different from a tragicomedy that is playing over and over in front of our eyes, on repeat. As soon as the elections are over, the exact same people will appear on our television screens, delivering the exact same speeches, ripe with the exact same buzzwords. “We came to save you” will be the gist of their remarks. But what the people of Iraq are desperate for are political leaders who possess the qualities of integrity, honesty and magnanimity; not people who seek to enhance their own power, protect their own interests, and abuse their political immunity to evade corruption. The foul odor of cronyism fills the hallways of our state institutions. From there, it spreads into the streets of our provinces, towns, and cities – where local leaders fight over political titles, social prestige and power. During the previous elections, about half of eligible voters in Iraq chose not to vote. They were tired of begging for their most basic rights. I don’t know what the election results will look like. I also don’t know what turnout rates will actually be. But I do know that the people of Iraq are fed up. They cannot bear to suffer the same corrupt and inept leadership they’ve been dealing with for the past three years. – Ali Hussein (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)