The upcoming October elections in Iraq bear many differences from the voting processes that preceded them, as they are held nearly six months before their usual date, and came as a result of unprecedented demonstrations in the country, and they are the only elections that came after the resignation of an Iraqi government elected by Parliament.
But that is not all, as it is also the elections that witness the competition of the largest number of “non-traditional” parties and movements, including those whose leaders were among the activists of the demonstrations, others from the independents, and a third that some analysts call “shadow parties”.
Anticipating ‘strong opportunities’
The Iraqi political analyst, Mortada Al-Awda, says, “Shadow parties are those movements and parties that appear with new leaders and new names, but they are affiliated and funded by traditional parties and movements.”
Al-Awda adds to Al-Hurra that “this tactic allows traditional parties to compete in environments that they usually reject, and gives shadow parties an advantage in providing funding, management and expertise.”
The new parties and movements hope to overcome these obstacles with the help of socially influential figures.
Mashreq Al-Fraiji, Secretary-General of one of the new movements participating in the elections, said that “the new and independent political entities came out strongly in these elections,” adding to Al-Hurra website that the chances of these entities are strong, especially as they “contain socially respected personalities in the electoral districts that compete.” In which”.
Perhaps the opportunity for the new blocs, especially those affiliated with the October demonstrations, is great, especially since there are parties whose leaders belong to these demonstrations, which announced their boycott of the elections, says Montaser al-Kamali, a member of a bloc whose members most participated in the demonstrations.
Al-Kamali, who spoke to Al-Hurra website, believes that “the boycott of the October blocs (the common name for the blocs emanating from the demonstrations), may be a motive for the Iraqi protesters to elect the blocs that did not boycott.”
“Perhaps the boycott will be able to unite the protesters’ voices in the end,” al-Kamali adds.
But leaders in other blocs, which decided to boycott the elections, see the opposite.
Will the demonstrators participate?
Alaa Sattar, a member of the General Secretariat of a party that emerged from the protests, says that “the audience of these parties (emanating from the protests), the majority of them are young people who contributed to the October 2019 uprising, and that the vast majority of this public announced explicitly that they would boycott the elections.”
Star added to Al-Hurra website, “These parties entered the elections without a clear electoral audience on which to base, nor did they try to convince this audience, nor did they pressure the authority to be part of the electoral security dialogue, in addition to the siege and the almost daily sabotage acts they are subjected to. The electoral machines of these parties are by the authority and its militias.
The political blocs that decided to boycott say that their decision came because their candidates and leaders were subjected to intimidation, assassination, or displacement attempts from their areas.
Star believes that all this will “reduce her chances of success in such an environment, and I do not think that she will be influential in the next parliament session.”
Hussein Mahmoud, Secretary-General of one of the parties that boycotted the elections, and stemmed from the demonstrations last October, said, “The protesters participating in the elections are fighting an unequal electoral battle because of the difference in capabilities and the short period of time that did not allow them to reach society in the required manner, as well as the legal and constitutional violations practiced by the blocs. society for the purpose of enticement or intimidation.
Mahmoud added to Al-Hurra that “all the capabilities of the state are used by the forces of the current political system, and this includes weapons, influence and public money,” so Mahmoud does not expect that “their chances of participation will be high.”
These problems are not confined to the regions that witnessed large demonstrations in October 2019, and extended for about a year, but also in other regions, such as the western regions that did not witness similar demonstrations.
A prominent activist from Anbar province, Omar Agha, believes that “the chances of new parties in the western regions of Iraq are “low” due to “the strength of competitors”, as Agha believes.
Agha added to Al-Hurra that “the new parties are largely absent in the western regions,” and they “chosen personalities who are unable to reach the youth base in those regions, which reduced their chances of participation.”
“The new parties did not even hold large electoral rallies in those areas to introduce their candidates,” Agha says.
On the other hand, Agha says, “the large traditional parties have put pressure on the new parties, and independent candidates have been excluded from the electoral race as a result of these pressures.”
The Independent Electoral Commission invited about 25 million voters to participate in the early elections, which will be held on October 10, in which more than 3,200 candidates are competing to win 329 seats, the total number of seats in the House of Representatives, 25 percent of which are allocated to women.
The elections will be held according to a new electoral law that adopts closed electoral districts, so that nomination does not require affiliation in lists and can be limited to a limited number of candidates, according to the number of residents in each district.
It is likely that the political blocs will resort to nominating dignitaries and prominent personalities within 83 electoral districts. But the situation often changes and new alliances are formed after the results are announced, which constitutes a change for the political blocs under the dome of Parliament.