- Des Clark
Iraq votes on 10-10 but don't hold your breath...
© Des Clark photos
Iraq votes this coming Sunday, 10th of October but few are expecting any significant changes as a result to their lives. The elections are being held nine months before their originally scheduled date, primarily in response to the demands by the October 2019 violent street protests. However the parties that emerged from these widespread protests have far less financial and political resources than the already established larger parties that are seeking to maintain the status quo.
Although Ayatollah al-Sistani has called on Iraqis to vote in large numbers in this election - unlike in 2018 where no such statement was made - voter turnout could still be as low as 20% in some regions with voter disenfranchisement high and intimidation against activists such as the killing of Karbala-based Ehab Wazni in May this year, continuing.
Voters will continue to vote largely on existing political and sectarian lines where the demographics of the various coalitions remain unchanged since the last election. Indeed one of the main dividers that voters will be choosing is the degree that pro-Iranian parties hold power.
The two main Shia political alliances offer contrasting ideologies to their followers. Fatah led by Hadi Al-Amiri is the political arm of the pro-Iranian militias which pursues Iran's anti-USA agenda in the country.
The anti-Iranian Sairoon coalition, led by Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr won the largest number of seats last time around. However Sadr controls the health ministeries and his popularity has waned since the two deadly hospital fires earlier this year.
The two most likely outcomes after the vote-counting has finished are either a "more of the same" consensus government formation, or political deadlock until eventually a coalition government is formed and a new Prime Minister appointed.
Either way, the realisation of the hopes and dreams of the October 2019 protestors will most likely remain dormant in the near future. Longer-term change in the country is still possible but with so many powerful interests at the highest levels, even this looks remote.
Many of the young generation of Iraqis will continue to look outside their country for their own dreams to be realised.