• Baghdad

  • Sunday, December 17, 2023 at 4:16 AM
    Last Update : Wednesday, December 20, 2023 at 4:44 AM

What Do Iraqis Expect from Provincial Council Elections?

(AWP) - The streets of the Iraqi capital are stacked with banners and photographs of candidates running in the upcoming provincial council elections, stoking a state of high anticipation in a population that will see the first local election of its kind since the fall of the Saddam Hussein regime in 2003.

The poll will be held on Monday across 15 Iraqi governorates.

Provincial councils in Iraq are subject to direct parliamentary oversight, as they enjoy broad administrative and financial privileges and powers, including allocating budgets for the health, transportation, and education sectors.

According to activist Hussein Salman, the upcoming elections will not bring any change to the political scene in Iraq, as he believes that the country’s most powerful parties will seize the opportunity to expand their powers to the provinces.

"The major parties are in control of the political arena, and the provincial councils will certainly be subservient to the heads of the [major parties’] blocs. The heads of the blocs, whose work is known, have not provided anything, and the evidence is the Iraqi street, without pavement or construction,” he said.

Hadi Safi, another Iraqi activist who shares Salman’s opinion, said that the provincial council elections “aim to dominate the financial and human resources of the provinces, because what is important to the major parties is to control these provinces. Their dominance decreases without the provincial councils, so they have reintroduced the single list election and canceled the multiple list."

Abu Seif al-Mohammedawi, an Iraqi member of the Sadrist movement, says that he will abide by the group’s decision to boycott elections due to the “insufficient evidence of the contribution of past and present candidates to the reconstruction of the country, and their interest in the same. Second, the rational [Shiite] authority has, more than once, spoken of the phrase, ‘what has been tried and tested shouldn’t be tried again.’ Third, the corrupt have been in power over Iraqis for twenty years. Enough injustice, enough persecution."

Iraqi citizen Hisham Adnan believes that candidates are politically incompetent, to the extent that some of them should have been banned from running.

"I do not see names, people, or anything new that they promise to present. Basically, here is a  candidate. When you listen to his electoral campaign, and some of the matters that are presented in the streets or the electoral program, you will see that he is a person who is incapable of taking part in the political process. Some candidates should be prevented from running in the first place,” he said.

The electoral term for Iraqi provincial council is four years. Each council consists of 10 members, plus an extra seat for every 200,000 people in governorates whose population exceeds one million, to a maximum of 35 members per council, according to the country’s latest population census.