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|Tuesday 25th January 2005
The Election Process
For the first time in over 40 years the people of Iraq will be able to vote in a wide-ranging general election.
The insecurity in Iraq has severely affected the build-up to the election. Campaigning has been hampered and restricted by necessity to certain areas, candidates have avoided making their names public out of fear of retribution, election workers have been harrassed and in some cases killed, and offices of political parties/factions have been bombed and attacked.
There are huge concerns about what will happen on polling day itself. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has declared 'war' on democracy and the election and there are real fears of violence on the day itself. There are also fears that people won't vote out of fear of harassment or being targeted by insurgents.
On 30th January 2005 Iraqis will go to the polls for the first elections since the US/British invasion in March 2003. There will actually be three elections in January 2005:
1. Iraqi National Assembly Election
2. Kurdistan National Assembly Election
3. Regional Governorate Councils
Only people in the Kurdish areas will vote for the Kurdistan National Assembly.
The key election is the National Assembly. This is a 275 seat body that will act as the legislative body for the Transitional Government.
The election marks the end of the Interim Government phase of the post-war political re-development of Iraq and the start of the Transitional Government. The Transitional phase will end once a new constitution is approved in a referendum and a second election is held. The end goal is the election of a permanent Iraqi government based on a nationally approved new constitution.
The election will use a list system based on proportional representation with the entire country acting as one constituency. The 275 seats in the National Assembly will be divided up in proportion to the number of votes a party list receives. The parties will allocate their portion of seats themselves using a list system, so if a party fields a 200-person list and is allocated 15 seats, the top 15 names will be given seats in the Assembly.
In addition, 25% of the seats in the assembly must go to women, therefore every third candidate in the list must be a woman to ensure the quota is reached.
All eligible voters:
Approximately 14-15 million Iraqis are eligible to vote, including an estimated 1 million who live abroad (Iraqi Electoral Commission via Human Rights Watch). Iraq has an estimated population of 24.5 million.
Votes will be counted in the governorates and results then taken to Baghdad. Out of Country votes will be counted in the country and results sent to Baghdad. Counting begins at 1700 Iraq time after ballot boxes closed.
The elections are being overseen by the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq. Iraqi police and the National Guard will provide security for polling stations on the day although they may choose to ask the US-led MultiNational Force to help if required.
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