Iraq poised for parliamentary renewal with vague prospects for change

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Iraq poised for parliamentary renewal with vague prospects for change

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Baghdad’s bridges and streets are festooned with banners and billboards for the parliamentary elections, the first calling on Iraqis to vote for their representative assembly since US troops pulled out in 2011.

Checkpoints and violence have not prevented the candidates and coalitions from pasting and stapling the capital’s main avenues with names and photos. But a declaration of their intentions is rare.

As a result, people’s perceptions of improving how their lives are governed might appear abstract.

To our random request for comment in the Rusafa district of Baghdad, one man said: “It’s a good step towards change. People are encouraged to vote, to choose the best candidate.”

A woman offered her view, saying: “I wish these could be fair and impartial elections, because the Iraqi people want to change, to achieve the hopes of the Iraqi people.”

Very little has been achieved since the parliament that is up for renewal was elected in 2010.

In 2012, unemployment was around 16 percent, and according to a report by the World Bank, although the oil sector has delivered strong growth, overall economic expansion “has not been broad-based enough to make major inroads on poverty and exclusion.”

An elderly seller at an open air market stall said: “We want new faces: men and women. We demand it.”

That is against a backdrop of conditions the World Bank said: “…keep Iraq at the bottom of global rankings for doing business.”

Failures in attracting investment, diversifying economically or supporting agriculture are just some of the criticisms attributed to the political elite.

Our correspondent Mohammed Shaikhibrahim said ordinary Iraqis are exhausted with the insecure political state their country is in; they are hanging their hopes on these elections to at last give them a chance to enjoy a better life.