Successful elections were held today in many Iraqi provinces. Instead of succumbing to the pressures of radical Islamist forces, all signs indicate that today’s voters swarmed the polls despite the known threat of terrorist attacks on polling stations and on voters. The outcomes are not yet known, but I am cautiously optimistic that today signals a strong step in the right direction.
The last time Iraqis voted the city was an al-Qaeda stronghold and its mosques issued bloodcurdling warnings to stay away from the polls. On Saturday clerics were using the loudspeakers once again, but this time urging the town’s population to vote.
As a result, turnout seemed as high in Fallujah as elsewhere in the country as many of Iraq’s 15 million voters took part in local elections held in 14 of the country’s 18 provinces – everywhere except Kurdistan and the city of Kirkuk. More than 14,000 candidates stood for 440 seats in what could prove to be a turning point in Iraq’s recent bloody history.
The Campaigning was peaceful by recent Iraqi standards, and the Iraqi police and army forces provided all the security without calling on Coalition backup.
The election, then, appears not only to have been a sign of democratic success, but also a signal that Iraqi security forces are able to maintain peace. All this is preliminary, since the election ended only a few hours ago, but it is surely worth noting.
The Telegraph article, however, buries the lede in the penultimate paragraph: “Jobs and housing were the main issues in the election.”
A turn to domestic politics, away from the dominant focus on security, is without a doubt the best news of all.