Thursday, December 08, 2005

In Iraq, Signs of Political Evolution

WaPO reported Parties That Shunned January Vote Are Now Embracing the Process

This is good news. Ballots are definitely preferable to bullets.
Tucked into a bunker-like former headquarters of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party, a type of war room unfamiliar in this country buzzed with life Wednesday. Halfway through a 14-hour shift, campaign workers from the Iraqi Islamic Party, a Sunni Arab group that boycotted the country's previous elections in January, munched rice and kebabs, their faces lit by computer screens.

Across town, hundreds of black-clad followers of the radical Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr -- who decried balloting 10 months ago as something imposed under American occupation -- beat their backs with chains and stomped across a large poster of former interim prime minister Ayad Allawi. Sadr's political wing has joined forces with the alliance of Shiite religious parties that leads Iraq's current government and opposes Allawi's secular movement.
And as long as both parties receive enough seats in Parliment for them to have some negotiating position, they hopefully will remain dedicated to a political solution.
As Iraqis nationwide prepare to go to the polls for the third time this year on Dec. 15 -- this time for a new parliament -- candidates and political parties of all stripes are embracing politics, Iraqi style, as never before and showing increasing sophistication about the electoral process, according to campaign specialists, party officials and candidates here.
Fantastic news
"It is like night and day from 10 months ago in terms of level of participation and political awareness," said a Canadian election specialist with the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, a group affiliated with the U.S. Democratic Party that is working to ease Iraq's transition to democracy. The institute, which has provided free campaign training to more than 100 Iraqi parties and describes its programs as nonpartisan, granted a reporter access to its employees and training sessions on the condition that no one on its staff be named.

Evidence of political evolution is plastered all over Baghdad's normally drab concrete blast walls and hung on lampposts at nearly every major intersection: large, colorful, graphically appealing posters conveying a wide variety of punchy messages.

Ranting Profs blogged I would have liked to see this article a few weeks ago, and I'd love to see a follow-up article that talks about what the key issues in the campaign are and which parties are likely to do well, but -- at last -- here's an article in a major news outlet that goes into detail on what's going on with preparations for the Iraqi elections. It's clear that the security situation is having an impact, but it's also clear that parties are finding work arounds that are creative (if you can't canvass door to door, text message hundreds of people at once) and it's clear that there's a real seriousness and excitement about this election.

Hugh Hewitt blogged Yes, there are threats and violence and suicide bombers and pessimists in Iraq. But there are also late-night kebabs at campaign headquarters, old-fashioned negative ads, door-hangers, and hope. I'm really glad we're hearing about both from the Post.

California Yankee blogged Amazing, just over two yours ago Iraqi's couldn't say anything Saddam didn't want to hear. Now they campaign freely to choose their own law makers. Such progress is phenomenal. It is very encouraging to see such reports in the main stream media. Especially when it is so different to the doom and gloom espoused by the Dean - Pelosi - Reid - Murtha Defeaticrats.

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