1121 GMT June 25, 2022
Iraqis are to elect a new parliament in the fifth such vote since a United States-led invasion in 2003 overthrew longtime leader Saddam Hussein, Al Jazeera reported on Friday.
A total of 329 seats are up for grabs in the election, which was moved forward from 2022 as a concession to youth-led protests that erupted in late 2019.
But many voters are expected to stay away amid widespread anger over corruption and ineffectual governance that has failed to meet the aspirations of Iraq’s 40 million people, 60 percent of whom are aged under 25.
There are fears voter turnout could drop below the 44.5 percent figure registered in 2018.
More than 25 million citizens are eligible to vote – but not nationals living abroad. Voters are supposed to present a biometric card for what was conceived as a fully electronic voting process. However, some have not received the cards and authorities say provisions have been made to ensure they are not excluded.
There were 600 polling stations across the country dedicated to Friday’s early voting.
The new electoral law will allow more independent candidates to the parliament. More than 3,240 candidates are in the running, including 950 women.
One-quarter of seats are reserved for female candidates, and nine for minorities including Christians and Yazidis.
This year’s election will be held under a new reformed electoral law that divides Iraq into 83 constituencies, instead of 18.
The new single-member constituency system is supposed to boost independents and reduce traditional political blocs, largely centred on religious, ethnic and clan affiliations.