Monday, 8 March 2010

Would You Stand in Line to Vote When Polling Stations Were Being Bombed?

Who believes in democracy? Not some Americans, it seems, if the current wave of right wing wacko rhetoric is any indication (see the various scary articles about the Tea Party etc..) But amazingly somewhere around 60 per cent of Iraqi voters cared enough on Sunday to cast their votes in legislative elections, despite considerable violence aimed at voters. Forty people were killed by bombs and other attacks, but people stood in line and braved the danger nevertheless. The turnout apparently was down from elections in 2005, but that it was as high as it was is heartening.

One reason may be a certain hardness of attitude that comes from living with war for so long: when your number's up, your number's up, in other words. And also the fact that Sunni leaders urged their followers to vote helped turn out voters. They want to shore up their side as Iran and Iraq jockey for power in the region.

Whatever the reason, I admire the courage and commitment of Iraqi voters. Would that people here thought that casting ballots was so important.

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