The Christian Science Monitor

In Iraq, a ‘post-sectarian’ election, yet challenges to democracy linger

Election posters line the streets in Baghdad, April 17, 2018, for parliamentary elections May 12, what is billed by candidates as Iraq's first post-sectarian vote. Source: Scott Peterson/Getty Images/The Christian Science Monitor

Their car stuck in sweltering Baghdad traffic, the Iraqi men spotted a foreign news photographer on the sidewalk taking pictures of a wall of campaign posters.

“They’re all thieves!” shouted one of the men, about the candidates in Iraq’s May 12 elections. “We won’t vote!”

When polls open Saturday morning, Iraqis will be choosing from some 7,000 candidates for 329 seats in parliament. It’s the first nationwide election since the declaration last year that the Islamic State (ISIS) had been defeated after a devastating three-year war.

This election season, some characteristics of Iraqi politics are new, such as a shift away from divisive, overt sectarian campaign rhetoric – among Shiites, Sunnis, and Kurds alike – that has dominated public political discourse since US forces invaded Iraq to topple Saddam Hussein in 2003. Taking its place are more bread-and-butter issues, such as local services and combating corruption.

Little trust in parties, parliamentSame old facesGetting out the vote

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