Iraq sees lowest election turnout for 15 years with just 44.5% casting vote

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Turnout for the Iraq election is the lowest for 15 years with only 44.5% of people casting a vote.

It is the first poll in the country since Islamic State was defeated.

Counting has begun to determine the make-up of the 329-seat parliament, which is expected to take days.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al Abadi is battling to keep his post as he faces several major challengers from within his dominant Shia community four years after coming to power.

:: Three people killed in bomb attack during Iraq voting

Despite overseeing the defeat of the IS, whose fighters overran nearly a third of Iraqi territory just weeks after he took office in the summer of 2014, Mr Abadi has failed to emerge as the clear favourite due to entrenched corruption and an economic downturn.

The downturn was partly sparked by a fall in global oil prices and the fact that the war against IS cost the Government an estimated $100bn (£73.8bn).

The most serious threat to Mr Abadi is Hadi al Ameri, a former commander of Iran-backed units that fought IS.

He is looking to turn battlefield wins into political gains with his list of ex-combatants.

Initial tallies have Mr Abadi just ahead of Mr Ameri, with an anti-establishment alliance of Shia cleric Moqtada al Sadr and communists in third.

Iraqi security forces stand guard outside a polling station in Baghdad Iraq sees lowest election turnout for 15 years with just 44.5% casting vote Iraq sees lowest election turnout for 15 years with just 44.5% casting vote skynews iraq election 4307419
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Iraqi security forces stand guard outside a polling station in Baghdad

Large swathes of the population, especially young people, have become disillusioned with the political establishment, some commentators have said.

Karim Bitar, of the French Institute for International and Strategic Affairs, said: “Iraqis had the sense that the game was already decided, that the elections were pre-packaged.”

Iraq’s political landscape is fragmented, some five months after IS was ousted from the country.

Results in the Sunni heartlands once dominated by the jihadists were set to change radically with Shia-led groupings pushing to make inroads.

Turnout was also higher than elsewhere in Kurdish regions where the traditional political forces have been left in disarray by a disastrous push for independence in 2017.



A member of Iraqi Federal Police waves an Iraqi flag as they celebrate victory of military operations against the Islamic State militants in West Mosul, Iraq July 2,  Iraq sees lowest election turnout for 15 years with just 44.5% casting vote Iraq sees lowest election turnout for 15 years with just 44.5% casting vote skynews iraq mosul islamic state 4178280




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Video:
Iraq declares victory over Islamic State

Baghdad seized back disputed oil-rich regions following a controversial referendum, threatening the traditional role of kingmakers played by the Kurds on the national scene.

Just under 7,000 candidates stood in the nationwide vote and Iraq’s complex system means no single bloc is likely to get anything near a majority in parliament.

Meanwhile in early indications of the outcome of the vote, The Iraqi Kurdish Patriotic Union of Kurdistan Party (PUK) emerged ahead of its rivals in Sulaimaniya province, which is its traditional stronghold.

Sources said the PUK looked to have won eight seats, well ahead of smaller rivals who had hoped for significant gains from Saturday’s vote.



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