Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Sistani: "Register to vote, darn it"

Ayatollah Sistani issued a statement that said people should register with the Electoral Commission to vote in the provincial council elections. The newspaper Azzaman notes this with only the following additional comments:

(1) The Commission has said recently that only 1.5 million people have registered, out of 13 million eligible voters (an earlier article in AlHayat quoted an independent source as putting the estimated number of people having registered at one million. (This would be in the neighborhood of 10% of eligible voters)

(2) An informed source said the ratio of eligible voters that have registered in Najaf, home of Sistani and the Shiite hierarchy, is only around 5%.

(3) The director of something called the Furat Center for Development and Strategic Studies
said their recent research in the field indicates that there has been a relative decline in voter-support for the Islamic parties.

(The Association of Muslim Scholars of Iraq also published a short note on Sistani's call, under the heading: The occupation government calls on the marjaiyya for help with the failed electoral game).

Ultra-low voter-registration, with a particular drop in support for the Islamic parties, seems to be consistent with the overall point of view expressed by the AlQabas op-ed writer (see prior post) namely that the government (supported by the Islamic parties Dawa and the Supreme Council) feels obliged to keep on putting out these recent tough-sounding statements on the bilateral negotiations, because it is "going through a difficult situation in which it is threatened with the complete alienation of the Iraqi street..."

(See also last Saturday's post called "Suggested scapegoats...")


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