Vinod's Blog
Random musings from a libertarian, tech geek...
Tuesday, October 15, 2002 - 11:23 AM Permanent link for iraqi election coverage
iraqi election coverage

I'm on a biz trip in Europe right now and have been flipping through the trio of BBC, CNN-Europe & EuroNews in my hotel room for the last 2 hrs or so  (background noise while I work).   Consequently, I've heard the canned news story on Iraqi elections on each of these channels and I'm appalled.

Relatively objective factoids are clearly enumerated -- that Saddam was "elected" in the previous election by 99%;  that he's the only candidate and voters can choose either "Yes" or "No", a turnout of 12 million expected, etc.   

The policy implication that *is* being mentioned is that Iraqi officials see this stunt as a vote of confidence in Saddam and a popular act of defiance against the US (mind you this is prior to the votes being tallied).

However, and most importantly, the royal sin of omission from this televised reports has been the issue of coercion at the ballots.  When I heard the headline "elections in Iraq" this was the FIRST thing that sprung to my mind but all reporters / anchors were mute.  They've all laid out most of the objective facts  & even a semi-intelligent viewer can draw the conclusion but the reports themselves don't explicitly state it ("Saddam wins in a 99.9% landslide?" c'mon!).  

Perhaps the specter of clearly manipulated elections actually represents *more* impetus for US intervention.  Broadcasters here, for some reason, seem far quicker to report that Saddam may have 12 million "yes" votes & that the US should consider this factor.

FWIW, "print" reports on the web (CNN, MSNBC) each have *1* direct sentance (mixed in a sea of Iraqi spokesman) stating that the elections are a sham.

UPDATE: This morning's coverage on the BBC/CNN/Euronews trio were Night & Day better than the reports last night.

Reporters had significant coverage & interviews with analysts who loudly proclaimed the Iraqi elections a sham. The BBC in particular had an extensive (by 30 min TV news program standards) interview with Peter Ackerman, an independent activst / advisor on foreign elections.    

Peter didn't hold back his opinions on the air and said directly that Iraqi voters are "obviously being coerced" and that "the vote itself is a sham."   He explained that "the vote as constructed makes it difficult to not vote or vote in a different way."   Peter said forcefully that "Saddams own brutality is sowing the seeds of defeat amongst his own people;  even the Republican Gaurds outside of Baghdad aren't believed to be very loyal."

In "print" news, the BBC quotes the London Foreign Office:

"You can't have free elections when the electorate goes to the polls in the knowledge that they have only one candidate, that candidate routinely murders and tortures opponents of the regime and the penalty for slandering that sole candidate is to have one's tongue cut out."

CNN reports:

All 11,445,638 of the eligible voters cast ballots, said Izzat Ibrahim, vice chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council that is Iraq's key decision-making body.

"This is a unique manifestation of democracy which is superior to all other forms of democracies...

To get a vote total at all -- let alone a 100 percent "yes" vote -- Iraqi officials would have had to gather and count millions of paper ballots, some from remote areas far from Baghdad.

Pretty cool.   I guess all I needed to see to make me happy was for some of they scorn and cynicism normally directed towards Bush and Kyoto protocol directed towards Iraq's domestic policies instead   ;-)

Perhaps, for some reason, it simply takes longer to find quotes / analysis like this?

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