ASIA/IRAQ - Patriarch Sako: elections at risk of boycott, even Christians could desert the polls

Saturday, 17 July 2021 middle east   oriental churches   politics   elections   religious minorities   corruption  

Baghdad (Agenzia Fides) - The risk of fraud and the experience of having been "robbed" of the quota of parliamentary seats reserved by the electoral system for candidates from Christian communities will push many Christians to boycott the political elections scheduled in Iraq next October. Iraqi Cardinal Louis Raphael Sako, Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans, is convinced of this, currently engaged in a pastoral visit to the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan. "I doubt that there will be transparent and fair elections as the ground is not prepared for that. There are militias and political money, so fraud will occur", the Patriarch said on Friday, July 16 in an interview with the Kurdish media group Rudaw.
The Primate referred in particular to the "tiredness" of Christian voters, due to the widespread belief that the Christian quota "will be hijacked again" by hegemonic parties and political forces.
The Iraqi electoral system reserves 5 of the 329 parliamentary seats for Christian candidates. The last political elections were held in May 2018. In recent years, as reported by Agenzia Fides (see Fides, 16/5/2019), Patriarch Sako has stigmatized on several occasions the fragmentation of political acronyms animated by Christian leaders and militants, noting that also thanks to these internal divisions, the Iraqi political parties with the most power in the 2018 elections had managed to place their own emissaries also in the parliamentary seats reserved for representatives belonging to the Christian component.
Those scheduled for October will be early elections (parliamentary representatives should be elected as a rule every 4 years). The early political vote was one of the demands of the protesters who took to the streets in 2019 against the government. In the general climate of mistrust, the appeals of commentators and political activists in favor of the boycott of the next election are multiplying. On Thursday, July 15 the same Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr, at the head of the largest political bloc in the current parliamentary assembly, announced his intention to close his party, withdraw support for the government and not take part in the next electoral competition. (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 17/7/2021)