Iraqi national elections

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The road to elections in Iraq - tussles between the CPA and the IGC

A prerequisite for Iraqi national elections in the "New Iraq" was the creation of an accurate Iraqi census. However, the New York Times reported on December 4, 2003 that "Iraqi census officials devised a detailed plan to count the country's entire population next summer and prepare a voter roll that would open the way to national elections in September. But American officials say they rejected the idea, and the Iraqi Governing Council members say they never saw the plan to consider it." [1]

On November 15, 2003, the New York Times reported that: "The Bush administration has agreed to restore independence to Iraq as early as next June, apparently hoping the move will change the perception of the United States as an occupying power and curb the mounting attacks on American forces in the country, Iraqi and American officials said Friday. ... The plan to accelerate the transfer of power was put forward by Iraqi leaders this week, and taken to Washington by L. Paul Bremer III, the American administrator in Iraq. Late on Friday, officials said, a newly returned Mr. Bremer hastened to tell members of the Iraqi Governing Council's inner leadership circle that the White House had broadly accepted the plan." [2]

The December 5, 2003 'Statement on Iraqi Sovereignty' by the Coalition Provisional Authority and the Iraqi Governing Council affirmed that: "The November 15 Agreement signed by the Iraqi Governing Council and the Coalition Provisional Authority is an historic step. It provides for Iraqis to choose a new Iraqi Government through direct, national elections by the end of 2005, on the basis of a permanent constitution. It provides for a new constitution drafted by Iraqis, who will be chosen by full direct elections by March 2005. It restores Iraqi sovereignty and ends the occupation by June 30, 2004." [3]

As of September 2004, the leader of the UN team organizing the elections was Carlos Valenzuela [4].

Iraqi national election December 2005

The "outpouring" of Sunni Arabs who "turned out in force to build a new Iraq, walking to polls by the hundreds of thousands" on Thursday, December 15, 2005, "for national elections that generated robust participation across the country's sectarian and ethnic divides" -- described as "a long-hoped-for victory for the Bush administration, concluding a U.S.-planned timeline aimed at establishing a government that will hold together after U.S. troops withdraw" -- was due to the Sunnis' "dislike of the U.S. occupation and Iraq's U.S.-supported, Shiite-led transitional government," Ellen Knickmeyer and Jonathan Finer reported December 16, 2005, in the Washington Post.

Of the numbers of lists posted around Iraq touting candidates for the election, Blogspot Bagdhad Burning highlights those of five parties (as stated):

Also see "Election Campaigning Degenerates into Dog-Eat-Dog Atmosphere," Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, December 9, 2005, background on the issues and political parties involved.

Iraqi national election January 2005

The first elections in Iraq since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein were held on Sunday January 30, 2005 [5].

National Endowment for Democracy, International Republican Institute help the Iraqis with democracy

According to the Washington Post, the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, International Republican Institute (IRI), and the International Foundation for Election Systems (IFES) were involved in preparations for the elections:

"In the 13 months it has operated in the country, the [NDI] has tutored political aspirants from all of Iraq's major parties, trained about 10,000 domestic election observers and nurtured thousands of ordinary citizens seeking to build the institutions that form the backbone of free societies. The work is in many ways entirely routine for the institute -- as it is for the two other Washington-based organizations that are here advising on the architecture of democracy: the International Republican Institute (IRI), which declined requests for an interview, and the International Foundation for Election Systems (IFES), which along with the United Nations is providing crucial technical assistance to Iraq's electoral commission." [6]

And according to a December 2004 press release, "Tony Marsh and Lance Copsey, principals of the Republican media consulting firm Marsh, Copsey & Scott,(now known as Marsh Copsey & Associates) recently signed a major contract with the International Republican Institute to develop an election media center. The media center will be a critical component to help Baghdad’s candidates and political parties in Iraq’s first ever free and fair election." [7]

Vietnam 1967 - a previous 'successful' election in a client state under US military occupation

The emphasis placed on the January 31 election by the Bush administration and its allies, and the elated reaction to its purported 'success', both bear an uncanny resemblance to the 1967 election in South Vietnam:

WASHINGTON, Sept. 3-- United States officials were surprised and heartened today at the size of turnout in South Vietnam's presidential election despite a Vietcong terrorist campaign to disrupt the voting. According to reports from Saigon, 83 per cent of the 5.85 million registered voters cast their ballots yesterday. Many of them risked reprisals threatened by the Vietcong.The size of the popular vote and the inability of the Vietcong to destroy the election machinery were the two salient facts in a preliminary assessment of the nation election based on the incomplete returns reaching here. Pending more detailed reports, neither the State Department nor the White House would comment on the balloting or the victory of the military candidates, Lieut. Gen. Nguyen Van Thieu, who was running for president, and Premier Nguyen Cao Ky, the candidate for vicepresident. A successful election has long been seen as the keystone in President Johnson's policy of encouraging the growth of constitutional processes in South Vietnam. The election was the culmination of a constitutional development that began in January, 1966, to which President Johnson gave his personal commitment when he met Premier Kyand General Thieu, the chief of state, in Honolulu in February.
— Peter Grose, "U.S. Encouraged by Vietnam Vote: Officials Cite 83% Turnout Despite Vietcong Terror", New York Times, September 4, 1967: p. 2.

Miscellaneous quotes about the 2005 Iraqi election

"US authorities say Iraqis will vote in the insurgent centres of Fallujah and Ramadi but officials will keep the number and location of polling stations secret until the last minute to prevent attacks."
  • 20 Jan 05: Political Animal Kevin Drum at the Washington Monthly reports:
"On ABC News tonight they had a report about preparations for voting in the city of Mosul. The original plan was to have 100 polling places, but because of the violence there that's been cut down to 40.
"The population of Mosul is 2 million, and you can probably figure that about two-thirds of that number are eligible to vote. That means each polling place will have to handle 33,000 voters. Even if turnout is only 50%, that's still about 16,000 people per polling station.
"Even 100 polling stations sounds like far, far too few. But 40?"
"Israelis of Iraqi descent can participate in the elections to the Iraqi parliament, according to the voter registration principles."

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