Iraq Elections Likely Won't Weaken Insurgency, Political Scientist Says

Article ID: 509473

Released: 27-Jan-2005 1:40 PM EST

Source Newsroom: West Virginia University - Eberly College of Arts and Sciences

Newswise — This weekend's elections in Iraq might lend some legitimacy to the new government but won't likely end the daily violence plaguing the war-torn country, a West Virginia University political scientist says.

Iraqis go to the polls Sunday to vote for a 275-member National Assembly and 19 regional legislatures. The National Assembly will have a year to elect a president and deputies, who will in turn select a prime minister.

"The elections are somewhat predictable at this point," said R. Scott Crichlow, an assistant professor whose area of expertise includes Middle Eastern politics. "There will be more bombings, and the Sunnis are going to end up extremely underrepresented since the main Sunni party is boycotting.

"There is also the basic issue of how much these are really 'elections' in the sense Americans view elections," Crichlow added, noting safety concerns that have led to extreme security measures and sent many candidates into hiding.

That said, the elections will offer a glimpse of how Iraqis embrace exercising their vote amid turmoil, he said.

"Turnout is one key matter to watch," he said. "It could actually be really high in some areas, which I think most Americans would view as a good sign. Secondly, how does Prime Minister (Ayad) Allawi's party do relative to the Islamic list? That will have important consequences."

Regardless of the outcome, Crichlow cautions against expecting a peaceful transition overnight.

"While the elections might provide some legitimacy to the new government, they're probably not going to do much to weaken the insurgency," he said. "And the Sunni underrepresentation could mean you have a very unstable Iraq for some time to come since the people elected on Sunday will write Iraq's constitution."


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