When voting really matters

The courage and optimism of the Iraqi people who voted on Sunday is obvious. We (all of us – pro- or anti-war) need to set aside our cynicism for a minute and acknowledge the significance of this vote. If it had turned out to be a phony exercise or just PR for the coalition it would have been different. It turns out that over 60% of the eligible population went out to vote. Do I need to remind you that that’s a better turnout than most Western Nations see for general elections (and usually in the absence of any threat of beheading)?

Is that huge vote of confidence in the democratic process more than a two-fingers to the ‘insurgents’ and other nihilists who opposed the election all together? Yes. It’s very hard to avoid the conclusion that this big, enthusiastic vote does more than refuse the insurgents their easy victory. Despite the complicated and uncomfortable circumstances – and the indecipherable proportional voting system – Iraqis have taken to the democratic process like the sophisticated political animals they obviously are.

Their enthusiasm for this election inevitably sends an uncomfortable message not only to the bombers and beheaders but also to the anti-war contingent (the Pilgers and Fisks and Galloways, the Daily Mirror, The Independent etc. etc.) and also to the ambivalent, the waverers, the worriers and the uncommitted (me, for instance). It seems there’s a reasonable chance – against all the odds – that democracy has taken root in Iraq.

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