A+ A-ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The Iraqi people’s general attitude toward the elections has turned “cold”, a prominent member of the Sadrist movement told Rudaw on Thursday, as parliamentary elections approach.
The public “mistrusts political blocs,” Issam Hussein, a popular Sadrist commentator, told Rudaw’s Hawraz Gulpi, “especially with the behavior of the political blocs in the past 18 years.”
The situation for people in central and southern Iraq is dire, according to Hussein, noting that there are few job opportunities in the areas, leading people to migrate to the Iraqi capital of Baghdad for work.
“It is believed that such citizens don’t have the will to head to the ballot boxes,” he added.
Iraqis will go to the polls on October 10, a year ahead of schedule. Early elections were called to meet a demand of protesters who brought down the government of former Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi in 2019. However, interest in the vote is currently low.
Protesters have in recent months called for a boycott of the elections, questioning the legitimacy of the vote in an environment where powerful militias operate outside of government control, activists and election candidates are threatened, and the electoral commission and political elites are accused of fraud. Several parties from across the spectrum have announced they will not participate, citing similar reasons.
Public sentiment toward the upcoming elections also seems to be wavering.
“I will not participate in the elections. I don’t see anyone qualified for it,” a passerby in Baghdad told Rudaw’s Halkawt Aziz. “It’s the same people, even if their faces are new.”
Other locals say they don’t have any hope that elections will change their circumstances.
Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, leader of the Sadrist movement, last week reversed an earlier call for his politicians to withdraw from elections, saying they will contest the elections with “determination.”
There are a total of 3,249 candidates vying for 329 seats in the parliament. The official campaign period began on July 8 but has so far been lackluster.