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Election Day

Thursday, December 15, 2005, 19:42 EDT Leave a comment Go to comments

Can you imagine a U.S. congressional election in which 70% of eligible voters turned out to vote, defying threats of violence, not complaining about long lines or security searches, and being genuinely excited to be there?

A celebratory atmosphere took hold in some locations. In the eastern Ramadi neighborhood of Sufiya, candy was being handed out, as people came to vote.

Khalilzad said that people arrived to polls with families "almost like going to a wedding."

(CNN)

That sure isn’t like any election day I’ve ever seen. But we’re spoiled here, aren’t we? We expect democracy to be convenient, and when it isn’t—such as when we have to wait in long lines—we complain about being "disenfranchised". Or we just don’t go at all. We don’t appreciate what we have. We take for granted what others in the world willingly and even gleefully risk their lives for: self-determination.

Lawyer Mahdi Al Rahim, who arrived from Baghdad two days ago, said the election was a crucial step in Iraq’s future.

"The elections are fantastic," he said. "It’s the first time we practise democracy right."

(The Australian)

Today the Iraqi people, whom some say don’t want democracy or are incapable of maintaining a representative government, are turning out in droves to elect a parliament. It is the third election in the long process of building a government to replace the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein, who was always "elected" unanimously because no one else was on the ballot. Now, they have more than one choice, and it makes them happy.

It isn’t just the freedom to choose who runs their government that has them excited. It’s also the prospect of long-term stability and eventual autonomy. They don’t like being occupied by the Americans and coalition nations, but they—unlike some U.S. Democrats— recognize that withdrawal must be tied not to a calendar but to successful completion of a process.

One man hoped the election would bring an end to the occupation, but this would depend, he said, on maintaining unity.

"Stability can only come from unity. When we have stability," he said, "then the Americans can go."

(BBC)

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