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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

The Electronic Generation Goes Polling in Iraq

Web logs invaded the Internet around the same time as the American-led coalition invaded Iraq, so it is fitting that some of the most insightful commentary on the war has come from Iraqi citizens -- students, professionals, homemakers, soldiers, former Baathists and others -- on their personal sites. The New York Times asked several young Iraqi bloggers to write about their experiences during the parliamentary voting last week -- and to share their thoughts about what the election will mean for their country's future.

Elections, Yes; Democracy, No

Blog name: Baghdad Burning

Blogger: Riverbend

Occupation: Former computer programmer

Location: Baghdad

Web address: www.riverbendblog.blogspot.com

Election day was calm and relatively peaceful; except for people walking to polling stations and the occasional Iraqi police patrol, the streets were almost empty.

There was a rather large polling center set up in our area, which made the neighbors slightly nervous, as no one was sure what to expect, but with the exception of a few minor explosions, our part of Baghdad was quiet. The mood at the polling center was calm and slightly disorganized all at once.

Many Iraqis went to vote because the current situation is intolerable. It's not so much with high hopes for drastic change that people went to the polls as it is in the national aspiration of putting an end to the occupation, and to the tyranny of the last year in particular.

Candidates on the political lists have been making endless promises in the hopes of attracting supporters, and the metaphorical carrot many political parties have been dangling in front of potential supporters is the promise of an end to the American-led occupation.

Will the new government be stronger or more reliable than the several interim governments we've had? Not likely. A government won't be respected unless it is perceived as sovereign by the people, and occupation in itself goes against every suggestion of sovereignty and democracy. How does one put faith in a government that needs the use of foreign armies to keep it in power?

In my opinion, elections in Iraq cannot be democratic under a foreign occupation -- especially when the election lists were composed largely of the same people who supported the invasion and occupation of Iraq. We are recycling the same names, faces and ideologies of sectarian and ethnic divide.

I don't believe elections will lead to democracy in Iraq unless they are truly free elections -- that is, free of foreign influence and not serving foreign interests. If democracy was equivalent with elections in general, Iran would be considered a democracy, wouldn't it?

A Iraqi Slacker Finds Religion, Sort Of

Blog name: Eject: Iraqi Konfused Kollege Kid

Blogger: The Kid Himself

Occupation: College student

Location: Baghdad

Web address: www.ejectiraqikkk.blogspot.com

Iraq's first Election Day last January was another Anyday for me. As a so-called Sunni who would rather be identified as "Iraqi," I wasn't really into politics. Same for the constitutional referendum in October. But Thursday was different. Now, I'm not the kind of person who simply gets up and does whatever his ayatollah tells him to do, but I was rather fed up with all the bad blood that resulted from American-installed sectarian policy, and I felt that voting would restore much-needed balance.

I woke up earlier than usual and when I got outside, at about 11 a.m., the aroma of holy (cringe) Eid was in the air; it was really a different day. Or, well, probably it was just that there were no cars around and lots of people were walking on our usually sparse street, which I prefer to call Zombietown because it's either very empty or dotted by a dead body or two (10 so far since 2003).

I live with my grandparents. Grandpa is too cranky to move, so he stuck to the remote for this one, but my grandma, a hard-core religious woman, was moved to vote by the mosques. I went with her and a neighbor to my old primary school. I carried my ID, and as we came by the back gate of the school, soldiers (or whatever they were) told us nicely that there was only one way in and that we might be searched. When we reached the entrance, we were searched twice before entering the school, where some dude asked, "Who is your local food supply provider?" Depending on the answer, you were shown your specific room.

We reached the voting rooms, about four of them, and one was empty so we went there. Everything was smooth and almost surreal -- it was the first legal paperwork I ever did anywhere without waiting or paying up or being met with a long-faced dude drinking tea. I picked my list and headed home.

I chose List 618 (the so-called Sunni list), not because I want an Islamic government, but to restore the balance between Sunnis and Shiites. I considered the secularist Allawi list (731) for some time, but something told me that guy's going to win anyway. Besides, Ahmad Radhi, Iraq's most famous soccer player, is strangely supporting 618.

How My Grandfather Became King of the Polls

Blog name: An Average Iraqi

Blogger: Hassan Kharrufa

Occupation: Engineering student

Location: Baghdad

Web address: aviraqi.blogspot.com

My family woke up about 9 a.m. on voting day. However, we stayed home; we watched the news, looking for any violence that might have happened in our area. Safety is still our main issue in Iraq, and if the security conditions had not been good, we would not have voted.

When we did not find any news of violence near us, we decided we would go out and vote. Since there was a curfew, no cars could be driven, so we walked to the poll station.

There were three of us, the streets were crowded with people coming and going. All the voters greeted one another, even if they had not met before. It was a very happy day. Workers at the poll station were very friendly, and the security around the poll stations was tight.

Everybody felt obligated to vote on these elections. Previous elections did not get the huge participation this one did. No one boycotted these elections. Even my 85-year-old grandfather participated.

Although he has much trouble just walking, grandfather managed to pull himself together and walked the distance to the poll station, resting many times on the way. At the poll station he was treated like a king; everybody saw how hard it was for him just to come here. They brought him the poll paper and the pen, all he did was choose his favorite list and give it to them. Then they inked his finger and that was it.

Looking back at the things we achieved since the war, I feel very proud. Although we hear shootings and bombings every day. We reached this far, and we are going on, on and on to the finish.

Yes, I am optimistic about the future. Life in Iraq has been so bad so far, but I see a bright future. I see an Iraq with full-time electricity, full-time water and full-time security.