Iraq holds early voting ahead of parliamentary elections

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Early voting has begun in Iraq’s parliamentary elections, with security forces, prisoners and internally displaced people casting their ballots two days ahead of Sunday’s general vote.

Iraqis are to elect a new parliament in the fifth such vote since a United States-led invasion in 2003 overthrew longtime leader Saddam Hussein.

A total of 329 seats are up for grabs in the election, which was moved forward from 2022 as a concession to youth-led pro-democracy protests that erupted in late 2019.

But many voters are expected to stay away amid widespread anger over corruption and ineffectual governance that has failed to meet the aspirations of Iraq’s 40 million people, 60 percent of whom are aged under 25.

There are fears voter turnout could drop below the 44.5 percent figure registered in 2018.

More than 3 thousand 240 candidates are in the running in the election, including 950 women.