Iraq Prepares for First Provincial Elections in a Decade

Iraq is having its first provincial elections in a decade. These are the first elections held since the ISIS war began in 2014. After the war, there was further chaos, including an independence referendum in the Kurdistan autonomous region and attacks by the Iraqi federal government and Iranian-backed militias. Despite warnings of voter apathy and potential violence, there has been high turnout in some areas, especially among displaced people and security forces. There are around 16 million voters and over 7,700 polling centers. There are 38 electoral alliances and more than 4,000 candidates competing. The elections will show whether Iraq can have a peaceful election and represent its diverse population, including Sunni and Shi’ite Arabs, Kurds, Yazidis, Turkmen, Assyrian, and others. The Sadrist movement, led by Muqtada al-Sadr, is one of the most prominent absentees in the elections, while former prime minister Nouri al-Maliki and local parties are competing. Former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki shows his inked finger after casting his vote during Iraq’s provincial council elections, at a polling station in Baghdad, Iraq, December 18, 2023. (credit: AHMED SAAD/REUTERS)