Iraq religious parties may face election backlash

January 23, 2009

Missy Ryan in our Baghdad bureau sees a possible drop in support for religious parties in Iraq:

BAGHDAD – When Iraqis last voted in 2005, some in Washington feared the mainly Muslim nation would veer in the direction of Iran, an Islamic theocracy, instead of becoming the moderate democracy they envisioned for post-Saddam Iraq.

The question when Iraqis elect new provincial leaders on January 31 will be whether the religious parties that have dominated politics since then can hang on to power despite a bitterness felt by voters starved of services and security.

“Religious parties didn’t keep their promises. They exploited our problems,” said Safaa Kadhim, a teacher in Basra, reflecting anger voiced across Iraq toward the major parties, mostly founded along sectarian lines and seen by many as corrupt and self-serving…

In an opinion poll by the government’s National Media Center in November, 68 percent of those questioned rejected the use of religious appeals in the campaign and 42 percent said they favored secular parties, while 31 percent supported religious parties.

Read the full story here.

(Photo: Election campaign posters in Baghdad’s Sadr City, 13 Jan, 2009/Kahtan al-Mesiary)
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