How much did Iraqi elections cost?

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By Fatih Abdulsalam

Azzaman, May 11, 2014

Iraq held general elections last month and 22 million Iraqis were eligible to cast their votes.

Few Iraqis probably realize how much the elections cost. The figure is staggering and many may wonder whether it is worth it.

The massive costs, estimated at $121 for each eligible voter, are probably the highest in the world. In the U.S. each eligible voter costs 23 cents.

With simple math, the elections cost the country’s treasury hundreds of millions of dollars, given that 22 million Iraqis were eligible to cast their votes.

Poor Iraqis! They have been paying in blood and hard cash for more than a decade in the hope of a change that will turn their lives for the better. But that change is yet to come.

The huge sum is what the government has paid from the country’s coffers. It does not include what the 9000 candidates had paid, what the various factions had paid and the amounts of money that entered Iraq from foreign states with interest in Iraqi affairs.

What are Iraqis required to do?

Some might respond by saying that the gains in terms of democracy are more valuable than the money.

But have the Iraqis attained the type of democracy, freedom, security and prosperity they have been promised by their successive government?

Iraq’s democracy is shaky as it lacks a permanent constitutions that is not liable to subjective interpretations and includes clear regulations in regard to freedom of press and formation of political parties.

How can someone claim that they want to build democratic institutions at a time the whole system suffers from rampant corruption, assassination squads and sectarian strife?

Only laws based on democracy with which everybody abides can protect the country, its people and wealth.

And only then one can place the elections in the balance of loss and profit in terms of output.

Confrontation with self has not occurred in Iraq. There is only confrontation with the other. This is why the country is in deep crisis.