It was a time for last minute reflection in Iraq after the end of campaigning for its first long-term parliament since the fall of Saddam Hussein.Security remains at a high level after a steep increase in violence by insurgents opposed to the vote. But today was relatively calm across the country. Iraq has been preparing for this election for some time and some analysts predict turnout could be as high as 80 percent. The ballot’s success or failure depends to a large extent on the level of participation. Iraq’s president, Jalal Talabani, urged people to get out and vote. “Let us make tomorrow a national celebration and an historic day for national unity,” he said. Across the world, Iraqi expatriates have already launched the process. These people in the Netherlands were among 1.5 million exiles in 15 countries who were eligible to vote. The contrast with elections of the Saddam era could not be more stark. Voters are free to choose from thousands of candidates representing hundreds of political groups.
Iraq prepares for historic vote