January 31, 2005

Quote of the Day

"A hundred names on the ballot are better than one, because it means that we are free."

An Iraqi voter, as quoted in this John Burns dispatch.

MORE: Another quote, from the WaPo: "Whatever they would do, I would still vote...Even if I was dead, I would still participate. The vote comes from the bottom of my heart."

Money grafs:

Officials loosely estimated voter turnout at 60 percent nationwide -- a figure that, if accurate, would make Sunday's vote perhaps the freest, most competitive election in an authoritarian Arab world and a rare victory for the Bush administration in Iraq. U.S. and allied Iraqi leaders had looked to the vote as a turning point in a troubled two-year occupation beset by almost daily carnage, rampant crime and deep disenchantment with the United States. Those officials had expressed hope that a strong turnout would deliver elusive legitimacy to the new government, enabling it to defeat the insurgency in Sunni regions and begin a long-awaited economic revival....

...In Ramadi, a western city of roughly 200,000 people along the Euphrates River, residents said only six people voted at one polling station: the provincial governor, three of his deputies, the representative of the Communist Party and the police chief. In Dhuluyah, a town north of Baghdad along the Tigris, the eight polling stations never opened, residents said, and in other towns in the region, voters usually numbered in the dozens as others ignored appeals broadcast by patrolling U.S. soldiers to vote.

But both the violence and the Sunni turnout proved to be the wild cards. After a slow start, growing numbers voted in heavily Sunni districts of the capital, including Khadra, Tunis and parts of Adhamiyah, residents said. Crowds in Baqubah, a mixed Sunni-Shiite town northeast of Baghdad, gathered with their children before polls opened and waited for tardy election workers as mortar shells detonated in the distance.

In the northern city of Mosul, scene of some of the fiercest fighting in recent months, turnout grew among both Sunni Arabs and ethnic Kurds as intense attacks failed to materialize. In the two weeks before the elections, the United States had increased its troop strength in Mosul by 50 percent, from 8,000 to 12,000, and brought in an additional 4,500 Iraqi security forces.

"God willing, this election will be the nail in the coffin of the terrorists," Abbas Salem, a real estate agent in Mosul, said after voting. [emphasis added]

Posted by Gregory at January 31, 2005 04:50 AM | TrackBack (9)

While I disagree with the critique of "too few" US troops, in general -- I fully support many MORE troops for a limited event, like elections.

It's a bit disappointing that there weren't a lot more Iraqi "temporary" and recently enlisted INP -- or if there were, I haven't read about them.

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at January 31, 2005 08:29 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The worrying thing is the complete absence of any cross-voting: if voting is just a way of expressing tribal allegiance, you get a census, not an election.

Posted by: Alex at January 31, 2005 11:29 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

As to tribal voting, check out US election history from about 1828 until the 1870's. What would you call that? Perfection is the enemy of the good.

Posted by: JorgXMcKie at January 31, 2005 05:37 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

It's a good idea to be skeptical of all "official" pronouncements regarding Iraq, given the fact that vanishingly few independent reporters will risk the Iraqi streets and virtually all mainstream coverage is mere stenography of CPA briefings.

Posted by: Archie at January 31, 2005 09:32 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"Whatever they would do, I would still vote...Even if I was dead, I would still participate."

Where was this guy, Chicago?

Posted by: cirby at January 31, 2005 09:34 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Milwaukee, Seattle, Jacksonville, Philadelphia. Same guy.

Posted by: Mrs. Davis at January 31, 2005 10:20 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Let's not get ahead of ourselves. By all accounts, the election has been a success. I haven't seen any statistics on the Sunni turnout yet. This will be critical to the perceived legitimacy of the election results among the Sunni population and among region Sunnis. As I understand it, this interim government will be charged with drafting and agreeing upon the terms of a new Constitution for Iraq. I have also heard that provisions in the new Constitution can be vetoed by the representatives from as few as three provinces. Having participated in the drafting by committee of many legal documents, I can say from personal experience that creating a new Constitution is going to be a major challenge for the new Iraqi government. They have a chance to make a better life for themselves and their countrymen. We can hope that the cooler heads will prevail and that they can come up with reasonable compromises, especially when it comes to power sharing. I wish them the best of luck.--Pikerman

Posted by: PIKERMAN at January 31, 2005 10:28 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"I haven't seen any statistics on the Sunni turnout yet. This will be critical to the perceived legitimacy of the election results among the Sunni population and among region Sunnis."

Isn't that a bit circular? The Sunnis who did not vote have already decided to take themselves out of the decision-making process. Some non-voters will perceive the election as illegitamate no matter what proof is offered.

Posted by: Les Nessman at February 1, 2005 05:24 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
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