Iraq’s early parliamentary elections on 10 October 2021 were characterised by a very low turnout, at about 20%, confirming the fact that Iraqi voters have no confidence in an electoral system designed to perpetuate the corrupt ethno-sectarian power-sharing system that was installed after the US war and occupation of the country in 2003.
The Iraqi Communist Party, that actively supported the popular October Uprising in 2019, had stressed that early elections were one of the principal demands of the Uprising aimed at bringing about radical change, ridding the country of the ethno-sectarian power-sharing system and political sectarianism and opening up prospects for establishing a civil democratic state and social justice.
However, there was growing deep concern about various aspects of the electoral process, including a flawed Electoral Law. It was amended by parliament and designed to serve the interests of the rulers and dominant blocs. The date for elections was postponed, at the request of the so-called “independent” Electoral Commission, from 6th June to 10th October 2021. Vote buying started early, with corrupt politicians and their parties spending money lavishly in the absence of any real controls. The Parties Law, which should prevent such practices and bans political parties with armed formations from participating in elections, has not been implemented.
No effective measures have been taken to prevent a repeat of the shameful rigging and manipulation of the voting process that marred previous elections. The real figure for the turnout in the last parliamentary elections in 2018 was about 20%, while official figures claimed it was 44.5%.
A very important demand by the protest movement, and also by Iraqi Communists, was that the perpetrators of the killings of more than 700 peaceful young protesters during the October Uprising must be brought to justice. But the transitional government of Mustafa al-Kadhemi, installed in May 2020 after the overthrow of his predecessor Adel Abdul-Mahdi by the protest movement, has failed to deliver on its promises.
In view of this situation, the Iraqi Communist Party, after conducting an internal referendum of all its party members and organisations, declared in July 2021 its decision to boycott the elections. It also warned that blocking the path to peaceful democratic change through free and fair elections will only deepen the political crisis and open the door to grave consequences, endangering civil peace. The rulers will then be held fully responsible for pushing the country toward the abyss.