Sunday, January 30, 2005

Iraqi Elections Aftermath

I'd like to take this opportunity to congratulate Iraq and its people on what appears to be a very solid transition to democratic rule.

News reports today have been offering widely varied estimates of how many people in Iraq voted today (I've heard figures between 8 million to 14 million). While there may be some confusion on the exact number, there is no confusion on the fact that the turnout was better than expected. When you consider that the population of Iraq is only 25 million, about 10 million of which are too young to vote, these turnout numbers are very high. When you consider all the threats and violence from terrorists leading up to this election, these turnout numbers are huge.

It is worth noting that, according to government statistics, federal elections here in the United States typically get about 50% voter turnout. If the 8 million number holds true, this represents 60% of registered voters, and thus a greater percentage of people voting in the Iraqi election than what one would expect in a US federal election.

It is also worth noting that (to my knowledge) there have not been any allegations of election fraud (vote buying, ballot box stuffing, voter intimidation, etc.) in this election.

When you combine these two factors, what is left is a credible result that will hopefully be accepted by the bulk of the Iraqi people and the world community as legitimate.

I congratulate the millions of Iraqi people who braved terrorist threats to exercise their democratic right at the polling stations, and to those soldiers and police who helped ensure their safety. And, to the people of Iraq, welcome to the "democracy club": hopefully this election will herald positive progress for your country and will be the first of many elections you will experience.