Iraq counts votes after lowest ever election turnout

Iraq has started vote counting on Monday (October 11), a day after record low turnout in the country's parliamentary election.

Many Iraqis said it reflected a loss of faith in the country's democratic process and political class.

The electoral commission said the turnout in Sunday's (October 10) election was 41%, with the lowest figure in Baghdad - between 31% and 34%.

The election was held in response to mass protests in 2019 that demanded jobs, services, the removal of Iraq's ruling parties and an overhaul of the political system.

Security forces and militias killed hundreds of protesters in a brutal crackdown.

The established, Shi'ite Islamist-dominated ruling elite is expected to sweep the vote.

The movement led by populist Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who opposes all foreign interference, is seen emerging as the biggest single party in parliament.

Its main rivals, the Iran-backed parties, which are accused of involvement in killing protesters in 2019, are expected to lose some seats, according to Iraqi officials, foreign diplomats and analysts' prediction.

They say such result would not dramatically alter the balance of power in Iraq or the wider Middle East.

The country has held five parliamentary elections since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 that toppled dictator Saddam Hussein.

But most ordinary Iraqis say their lives have not improved even during the relative peace since Islamic State was defeated in 2017.

Large parts of Iraq's infrastructure lie in disrepair and there is inadequate healthcare, education and basic services - especially electricity.

Initial election results are expected on Monday.

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