The Stream

What’s next for Iraq after first election since mass protests?

On Wednesday, October 13 at 19:30 GMT:
Iraq’s attempt to pick a new parliament this week was marked by record-low turnout and the re-election of many familiar faces. The polls opened early due to youth-led anti-government protests amid worsening economic conditions in 2019. A state crackdown on those demonstrations left 600 people dead and 20,000 more injured over several months.

Though young people had called for the early elections, millions of them boycotted the polls this week to express their distrust in the system and its potential for reform. “Nothing will change. This election will be won by the same factions that people protested against,” Baghdad day labourer Mohammed Kassem told Al Jazeera.

This week, more than 3,000 candidates vied for some 329 positions, and for the first time one-quarter of seats were reserved for female candidates, as well as nine for minorities including Christians and Yazidis. This is the fifth election since the fall of Saddam Hussein after the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

The party that wins the most seats will choose the country’s next prime minister, but without a clear winner, negotiations are expected to take months. So far, influential Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s party is slated to take the most votes. However, independent pro-reform candidates did make some surprising gains, while pro-Iranian militant groups incurred sharp losses.

In this episode of The Stream, we’ll discuss what happens now that the polls are closed in Iraq and the votes are tallied. Will the results usher in change, or will sectarian divisions and dysfunction remain the law of the land? Join the conversation.

In this episode of The Stream, we are joined by:
Luay al-Khatteeb, @AL_Khatteeb
Former Energy Minister, Iraq

Dashni Morad, @Dashni_Morad
Activist & artist

Rasha Al Aqeedi, @RashaAlAqeedi
Senior Analyst, New Lines Institute for Strategy and Policy