The Daily Dish linked today to an article on Musings on Iraq comparing voter turn out in last Saturday’s elections and the elections in 2005. Andrew Sullivan seems to have concluded from the post that
I love the Daily Dish, I am a loyal follower but, Andrew, not even the numbers Musings on Iraq quote support that argument.
The four Iraqi governorates with a majority Sunni population are Mosul, Diayala, Salah al-Din and Anbar and here are the voter participation numbers as posted on Musing on Iraq:
Mosul ………………60% 17%
Diayala …………….57% 34%
Salah al-Din ………65% 29%
Not only have more people voted in each of the Sunni provinces this year but Salah al-Din has the highest voter turn out in Iraq, more than 10% above the national average.
So how could this be described as a ‘disappointing finish’ by Musings on Iraq because of the low Sunni voter turn out is a bit of a mystery
Here on the ground the sense was that the Sunnis in those four governorates are going to be voting enthusiastically not only because Sunni extremists made participation in the elections a deadly proposition but also because they haven’t participated in the last elections which turned out to be quite a disappointment for Iraqis – probably one of the main reasons why the voter turn out in Iraq was less than the vote in 2005.
Also, it was widely broadcast and told on the day of the vote that the Sunni Brotherhood and other militant Sunni factions were not only encouraging voters in Sunni provinces to participate but they said they’re putting their weapons down for the day.
The AP reported on the day of the elections that:
What is very remarkable this time is the fact that voters in those heavily Sunni provinces might have turned their back on the obvious Sunni choice, The Iraqi Islamic Party, and gone for more centrist options. As Musings on Iraq says the results won’t be known for weeks but the initial indications are that the Islamic Party and its associates have lost a lot of ground to other, less fundamentalist parties. Juan Cole’s Informed Comment has a very interesting post in this regard.
I think the post on Musings on Iraq is diminishing what Iraq’s Sunnis might have done this time around. They didn’t only come out to participate in the democratic process in big numbers but more importantly shunning fundamentalism in favour of more centrist parties. And I hope that Andrew Sullivan takes another look at the numbers and see that saying ‘Sunnis didn’t show up in convincing numbers’ just ain’t fair.