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Iraq Election Not Really that Bad

Sunday, January 30, 2005

(SNN) After all the talk of people being afraid to leave their houses, businesses closing, 250 car bombs waiting to attack, and a day of terror waiting to happen, millions of people voted in all regions of Iraq yesterday.

The press was kept to a limited number of polling places for covering the election

The climate of the election was far from ideal. There were a number of car bombs and rocket powered grenade attacks, leaving at least 22 dead and dozens wounded. While the press was kept to a limited number of polling places for covering the election, so far it seems that the election was far from the bloodbath that everyone feared. Even in the insurgent focus in the south of Baghdad which has been dubbed the “triangle of death” turnout was solid.

Sadly, not every region saw the same amount of turnout, some because of a primarily Sunni population and some were intimidated by violence in the streets. Also, voter turnout is expected to have been low in Ramadi which is firmly in the hands of insurgents and was being heavily bombed by the US just before the polls opened.

In some primarily Kurdish sections, such as Kirkuk, Arabs and Turkmen boycotted the election

In some primarily Kurdish sections, such as Kirkuk, Arabs and Turkmen boycotted the election claiming that the voting rules favored the Kurds, who got to vote twice and then kick an Arab or Turkmen voter in the shin.

While the election turnout was better than expected, it does not mean that the trouble in Iraq will be over. Many observers fear the election results as much as the insurgency. With low voter turnout among the Sunnis, the Shiites could garner the 67% of the vote, and have huge, relatively unchecked power within the Iraqi government.

The real winner today is of course, President Bush, who promised the elections would go on as planned despite the claims of insurgents, his generals and his closest advisors. After no WMDs have been found, Bush had made the elections into a major test of the legitimacy of the war. And the President seemed to have been getting quite sick with anxiety about the elections taking place smoothly. Today, the President’s condition has been upgraded to smug, but restive.


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