The Iraqi elections are an example of civilized elections in our region. More than six million individuals cast their votes in six thousand polling centers throughout the day. They stood in long queues and dipped their fingers in purple ink. The elections took place without fighting and riot police did not need to intervene. Violence and tear gas were absent on the day. Voter turnout reached unprecedented levels in all regions.
Iraqi citizens acted in a civilized manner. It is hoped that Iraqi politicians will not spoil this great achievement. We hope they will accept the results and that the losers admit their defeat. We also hope politicians will respect the vote, no matter the outcome, especially the lists which were anticipating huge popular support but discovered they obtained moderate results.
Respecting the will of the people and accepting the outcome is a conducive to national dialogue between all sides in order to form the next government with representatives from the parties which enjoy the trust of the majority. This necessitates the interest of Iraq to be put before narrow party interests. It also requires parties which obtained modest results in the elections to participate in political life and government.
Iraq is in urgent need of a genuine national unity. Terrorism will not cease unless terrorists realize Iraqis have abandoned weapons for good and opted for the ballot box instead. This is no easy feat, given the history of violence and the absence of democratic practices, at the individual and institutional level. Moving from a one-party state system with a single opinion, a government- dominated press and mass graves to a system that respects others, acknowledges differences of opinion, respects the transition of power and minority rights, is complicated. It requires changes in schools, mosques and the media in order to introduce the new generation to democratic principles.
The Iraqi citizen has succeeded. Accompanied by his children, he defied the dangers and headed to the ballot box. The ball is now in the politicians’ court; they must not let this citizen down.