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Well-managed, competitive elections despite low turnout and problematic legal framework

12.10.2021
Baghdad

“The 2021 early parliamentary elections were technically well-managed and
competitive, despite challenges as regards level playing field for candidates and problematic aspects of
the legal framework”, Chief Observer of the European Union Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) to
Iraq, Viola von Cramon summarised the preliminary statement of the mission today in a press conference
in Baghdad.

 

“The 2021 early parliamentary elections were technically well-managed andcompetitive, despite challenges as regards level playing field for candidates and problematic aspects ofthe legal framework”, Chief Observer of the European Union Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) toIraq, Viola von Cramon summarised the preliminary statement of the mission today in a press conferencein Baghdad.

The Chief Observer highlighted: “Voting on election day was largely peaceful and orderly. Voters wereable to freely express their will, but turnout was low. Some 100 EU observers assessed the processpositively in the vast majority of polling stations observed. However, the legal framework contains someundue restrictions on electoral rights and many aspects of the electoral process are unregulated. Althoughfundamental campaign freedoms were generally respected, there were challenges as regards levelplaying field amongst candidates.”

Viola von Cramon also emphasised that “freedom of the media and expression was not completelysafeguarded during the campaign, as some journalists received threats and were sentenced to long jailterms, and several television channels were temporarily closed down. There were also limitations on fullparticipation of women, beyond the foreseen quota, persons with disabilities and internally displacedpersons.”

“It is important to note that these findings of the EU EOM cover the electoral process until now and thatthe overall process is still underway. As preliminary results have been announced by the Independent HighElectoral Commission (IHEC), it is crucial that all parties use the existing legal means to address anygrievances they may have over the outcome of the polls. Candidates and voters must be safe also afterelection day”, said Viola von Cramon, adding: “EU observers will remain in the country to observe the postelectoral developments.”

Domènec Ruiz Devesa, Head of the Delegation of the European Parliament, which observed the polls aspart of the EU EOM, endorsed the preliminary statement of the EU EOM and stated: “Despite the generallypeaceful and well organised election day, the low turnout is a sign that confidence in Iraqi politics isdecreasing, specifically amongst the young population. The Tishreen movement showed a deep frustrationof many Iraqis with the way politics are polarised along sectarian lines and are not delivering on policyissues. The new parliament will have a great responsibility to actively engage with civil society and toaddress the concerns of the citizens.”

The EU Election Observation Mission will publish a comprehensive final report in about two months fromnow with recommendations for improving the quality of future elections.