Election Takes

The most interesting read I see out there right now is a collection of voting day accounts posted on the BBC’s site. They’re just short takes on the scene from both Iraqis who voted and at least one who stayed away from the polls. Elsewhere:

The New York Times — criticized always from the right as the bible of leftist traitors and from the left as a cryptofascist propaganda mill — paints a striking portrait of the election scene in Baghdad:

“If the insurgents wanted to stop people in Baghdad from voting, they failed. If they wanted to cause chaos, they failed. The voters were completely defiant, and there was a feeling that the people of Baghdad, showing a new, positive attitude, had turned a corner.

“No one was claiming that the insurgency was over or that the deadly attacks would end. But the atmosphere in this usually grim capital, a city at war and an ethnic microcosm of the country, had changed, with people dressed in their finest clothes to go to the polls in what was generally a convivial mood.”

The Washington Post’s exhaustively reported mainbar is much more restrained, noting the nearly festive atmosphere around some Baghdad polling places and a muted response to the vote elsewhere in the country:

“In Najaf, the Shiite holy city that embodies Shiite Muslim hopes for the elections, a light early turnout meant several dozen people at one station in the first hour. Among the first out was Najaha Hassan Rahadi, 58, who broke into tears when asked why she was voting.

” ‘Six of my brothers were executed, and I spent two years in jail’ under Saddam Hussein, she said from her wheelchair. ‘I want to elect a government that represents me.’ ”

“In Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province, Iraqi National Guard assumed the role of election workers inside one school, as more than 100 U.S. forces took up positions outside. Loudspeakers mounted on Humvees urged people to come and vote, but the streets were empty of all but soldiers.”

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