Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Campaigning in the information age

With the elections set to take place tomorrow, my phone has been ringing off the hook. I have received over a dozen text messages alerting me to "listi 730." There were some other words, too, all transliterated from Kurdish. It seems that I've had more encouragement to vote for the main Kurdish list than I have for any party in the US, in any election. The telephone lines were reportedly jammed because of these solicitations, and I when I tried to make an in-country call, I reached a recording advising me in three different languages to try again later. Like myself, everyone working in Iraq appreciates that however aggressive the campaigning has been there is no significant violence to report.

In Arbil, where I am now, there are plenty of posters advertising the 730 list. I only noticed one poster for 729, the Kurdish Islamic Union. They're one of the only other Kurdish rival to the 730 list, and their offices were recently burned and looted in one of the few instances of election-related instability.

The persistent campaigning isn't unique to Kurdistan. Before we left for Arbil on the 11th, I received several messages in Arabic encouraging me to vote.


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