Sham Elections 4-D
Meanwhile, the numbers and announcements coming out from Iraq feed my suspicions that these are the most shambolic elections since... well, Saddam getting 100% with 100% participation.
As I wrote, the participation 'estimate' already dropped from 72% to 57% (or 8 million voters) on the very first day. Until Friday last week, the announcements claimed the result of 3.3 million counted votes from 10 Shi'a-majority provinces. Then, for two days, the announements didn't add any new numbers. Then on early Monday, they didn't release totals, only above-80%-counted results from one Sunni Arab and two Kurdish majority provinces.
In the first, Salahuddin province, 124,000 votes at 80% of precints reporting - original claims were of 50% participation, but this looks more like 15%. In the Kurdish provinces, over 1.1 million votes were reported - and over 90% of these to the united list of the two main warlords (Talabani and Barzani). I saw some reports that many Kurds see the elections as a chance to part with the two establisheds - so either these weren't wide enough feelings or ballots were stuffed. (Maybe the third Kurdish province's result is delayed for the need of even heavier ballot stuffing?...)
To make things more bizzarre, people apparently can't compute. If you add up results from the 13 provinces reported from in the above, that is 4.5 million votes. But late yesterday, new national totals were released - claiming only 4.36 million votes counted!
And it gets even stranger. The 4.5 million figure above assumes that no more votes were counted in the 'easy' Shi'a regions. But then read this:
Though [Sistani's United Iraqi Alliance's] share has fallen to about 51 percent of the vote, it should still get an absolute majority in the assembly as many of the votes still to be counted are from Shi'ite strongholds in the south.
...so now they have to find more votes in the South?...
UPDATE: You can trace similar confusion in an IHT article I just found. Meanwhile, I checked the site of the 'Independent' Election Commission of Iraq ("the IECI is a wholly independent body, set up and run using funds allocated in the Iraqi Budget") - both the Arabic and English versions have the data for the 13 provinces reporting so far. Apparently, for example Basra was only 15% counted, so my suspicions were (at least in part) misplaced here. As for the numbers discrepancy, that would be too big a feat to check - they are tallied [probably] for party lists, but without a summary.
Also, more numbers to track, the only 265,168 expat votes are counted. (That's 25% of voting-age expat Iraqis in the countries affected, and probably 10% of all voting-age expat Iraqis.) Meanwhile, update on minority voter disenfranchisement.
Finally, partly as a counterweight to my Sistani-bashing in the previous post, a link to Lenin's Tomb's latest: the unintentionally ironic self-exposure of the anti-democratic imperialism of a liberal warhawk. The guy recounts his and Christopher Hitchens' meeting with a bunch of pro-US Iraqis, whom they turned quite outraged (yet they can't understand why) by 'promising' that they won't let a theocrat government take over should it win elections.