Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Baghdad Candidates' Publicity Splurge

By Basim al-Shara

Election advertisements are everywhere in Baghdad, some of them discreet, some overwhelming.

Enormous posters of candidates cover entire building walls, while some drivers putter around the capital with small placards of their favourite candidates.

Parties are even using giant balloons for publicity – a first in Baghdad. Huge amounts of money are being spent, and no one is quite sure about the sources of the funds.

The political parties are holding big gatherings in hotels and conference venues. Smaller rallies are also being held outdoors.

Many people who had originally said they would not bother voting have now changed their minds. They are being told by the media that voting is the only way to make things better. What people want most are better public services.

Overall, Baghdad voters appear to be choosing candidates for their personalities over their sectarian affiliations.

There are reports of campaigning violations, with officials using their positions to promote certain lists. Religious symbols have also been reportedly used by political parties, a tactic that is prohibited under the new election law.

Some clerics are said to have joined campaigning by urging voters to take a holy oath promising they will vote for a particular party.

Security has held up so far, despite some bombings. The government also said earlier this week that six men had confessed to plotting to assassinate Baghdad governor Hussein al-Tahan in a car bomb attack.

Basim al-Shara is an IWPR-trained reporter.

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