Iraqi Election Commission postpones general election to October
On Tuesday, Iraq’s cabinet decided to postpone the country’s general elections, by four months. The election which were earlier pushed forward to June 6 has now been moved to October 10. Late on Sunday, through a leaked document the country’s local media got informed that Iraq’s Independent High Election Commission (IHEC) has decided to postpone country’s national elections to October. The election commission said that it needed more time to organise the upcoming polls.
The country has been battling one of its major economic crisis, in decades since the end of Saddam Hussein’s era and 2003 Iraqi invasion. The economic slump triggered anti-government protests which have been rocking the country for over a year. In October 2019, the country faced its worst protests as tens of thousands of Iraqis took to the streets to condemn deep-rooted corruption prevalent in the government set up, its poor service and high rate of unemployment in Baghdad. The protesters faced huge crackdown from authorities and hundreds lost their lives trying to raise voice against the chaotic regime.
One of the key demands raised by the protestors was the removal of the ruling political elite, which has been in place since the 2003 US-led invasion and to hold early elections.To pacify the unrest, in May, Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi proposed holding an early poll on June 6 – a year earlier than scheduled. Besides, President Barham Saleh also introduced new electoral law to make way for independent and civil society candidates, against more established parties.
As per the new election laws, Iran’s 18 provinces were to be divided into several electoral districts, in order to prevent major parties from forming a coalition group, which generally makes it easy for them to take away all the seats in a specific province. Instead, the authorities decided that the seats would go to whoever wins maximum votes in their respective electoral districts. It would increase the chances of independent candidates to win the elections and become part of the country’s parliament.
“We have to create a political climate which will help alleviate this suffering, as well as ensuring justice and integrity during the choosing of a strong government,” said Saleh, while introducing new amends to the election laws. “This is what we aspire to, through an electoral law which will enable Iraqis from all walks of life to vote and to participate in elections, God willing, without the historical problems of forgery, manipulation and pressure.”
With regard to the delay in elections, Iraqi activist Hashim Al Jabouri believed,“It is obvious that the [electoral] commission is influenced by the political atmosphere in the country since 2003 and that it takes into consideration the will of the big political parties.” He added, “These big political parties and the government want more time to rearrange themselves in light of the new election law.”