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HomePoliticsIraq Heads to the Polls to Vote for Powerful Provincial Councils

Iraq Heads to the Polls to Vote for Powerful Provincial Councils

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Iraq Heads to the Polls to Vote for Powerful Provincial Councils

Iraq vote for provincial councils after a decade, thousands compete.

On Monday, ballots will be cast in fifteen of Iraq eighteen provinces. The elections serve as a lead-up to a 2025 parliamentary vote that will gauge the strength of pro-Iranian factions that have been gaining prominence recently.

A total of 285 candidates will be elected to the councils, whose responsibilities include budget allocation for health, transportation, and education as well as the appointment of regional governors. The three provinces that make up Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region will elect their provincial councils in the upcoming year.

Activate the “final gage”

The vote on Monday is anticipated to be a crucial test for Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani’s administration. Al-Sudani was propelled to power a year ago by a parliamentary coalition of pro-Tehran parties.

Al-Sudani has had difficulty rebuilding infrastructure and public services after decades of conflict since taking office. He anticipates a sizable turnout, which would help his administration.

According to Chatham House senior research fellow Renad Mansour, “turnout is the ultimate gage of satisfaction.”

“If the Sudani government’s economic populism the policy of giving out jobs can be successful and can capture the young population,” he said, it will demonstrate.

Under strict security, voting was scheduled to begin on Monday at 7 a.m. (04:00 GMT) and end at 6 p.m. (15:00 GMT).

Of the 43 million people living in Iraq, about 17 million are eligible to vote, and there are 6,000 contenders.

However, an increasing number of disillusioned young people, who believe they have not benefited from Iraq’s vast oil wealth much of which is mismanaged or pilfered in one of the world’s most corrupt nations are apathetic towards voting.

Hassan Qabas, a member of Iraq’s Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC), informed Al Jazeera that they had invited around 1,800 foreign observers to participate.

Boycott

Anticipated strengthening of the Coordination Framework coalition’s position in the vote. The bloc, aligned with Iran, includes Shia Islamist parties connected to Hashed al-Shaabi, a network of previously paramilitary groups integrated into the regular army.

Critics counter that the councils will undoubtedly foster clientelism and serve as havens for corruption.

Significant Muqtada al-Sadr, a Shia scholar and political kingmaker, is not participating in the election because his opponents prevented him from forming a government after he won the 2021 parliamentary elections.

A member of his Sadrist movement named Manaf Almusawi told Al Jazeera that the boycott aims to “deprive the government of legitimacy” and “voice rejection of the government’s policies.”

Following Saddam Hussein’s overthrow in 2003, the US-led invasion of Iraq led to the establishment of the country’s provincial councils.

In response to widespread antigovernment demonstrations, the councils were first eliminated in late 2019; however, al-Sudani’s administration subsequently reinstated them.

Ten seats are set aside for minorities, including Christians, Yazidis, and Sabians, in order to represent the multiethnic and multiconfessional population of Iraq. Additionally, a quota of 25 percent guarantees that 1,600 of the candidates are women.

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