Iraq Provincial 2009
Elections are being held in 14 of Iraq’s 18 governorates (or provinces) today, the first election since 2005. There is no election in the three governorates of Iraqi Kurdistan (Arbil, Dahuk, As Sulaymaniyah) and in Kirkuk governorate, where a referendum on the governorates’ status keeps getting postponed and postponed.
Elections are by open party list, with a quota for women and minorities (3 Christians, 1 each for Yazidis, Mandean, and Shabak). The Sunni parties, which boycotted the past election in 2005, are running this time and should drastically increase turnout in the Sunni areas (Al-Anbar, Salah ad Din), which are currently ruled by Shia and Kurdish governments which lack popular support. Turnout was something like 2% in Al-Anbar in 2005.
The election in Shia areas is to be fought between current PM Nouri-al-Maliki’s Islamic Dawa Party (Shia conservatives, favouring a centralized Iraq) and the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (pro-Iran Islamists, favouring a federal Iraq with a huge Shia region), both government parties. The opposition Sadrists (those allowed to run) is also expected to provide competition, as is Iyad Allawi’s secular grouping. Al-Maliki’s Dawa is said to be favoured, and Allawi’s bloc could do well. Other say Islamist parties, sich as the SIIC, will do poorly.
In Sunni areas, the election is between the government Iraqi Accord Front (a broad coalition of Sunnis) and the tribal Awakening militias (formed to fight Al-Qaeda).
In total, around 400 parties (over 14,000 candidates) are contesting a total of 440 seats. Results are expected to take quite some time to come in.