Record low election turnout leaves Iraq facing more questions than answers

A kind of tired hopelessness hummed through election day, writes Bel Trew in Baghdad

Wednesday 13 October 2021 00:05
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<p>Supporters of Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr celebrate in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square </p>

Supporters of Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr celebrate in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square

Even those who were voting in Iraq’s elections questioned why they were bothering.

A kind of tired hopelessness hummed through election day. From supporters of Iraq’s largest party, the Sadrist Movement (which ultimately appears to have won), to those backing new activist-led parties, none of the people I spoke to believed there would be any fundamental change in the country – a place where, after years of conflict, corruption and international meddling, unemployment is rising and infrastructure is crumbling.

This was reflected in a record low provisional turnout of just 41 per cent, which served Iraq’s influential and sometimes maverick Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr well. His loyal support base showed up, helping to grant him as many as 73 seats of the 329-seat legislature. That is strides ahead of a Sunni coalition which, according to provisional results, came in second with just over half that number.

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