Former MP Joseph Sliwa on Iraqi Elections: Some Iraqi parties dominate and exploit minority votes for their own advantage

BAGHDAD — During Iraq’s recent parliamentary elections, nine seats in parliament were allocated for minority communities. Five of the seats are reserved for Christians in Iraq, of which the Chaldean-Syriac-Assyrian are the overall majority in Iraq. 67 candidates from different religious and national minorities competed for a seat in parliament through these nine allocated seats.

After the first election results, voices arose about voter fraud, vote manipulation and exploitation. Former Syriac Member of Iraqi Parliament Joseph Sliwa (2014-2018), who ran in the October 10, 2021, elections for the Bethnahrain Patriotic Party, has expressed a lot of public criticism about the state of affairs in the polls. Five winners of the Christian quota do not represent Christians because 90% of the votes they received were not from the Christians. Sliwa pointed to non-Christian parties having stolen parliamentary seats from Chaldeans-Syriacs-Assyrians by putting forward puppet candidates and having non-Christians vote for them.

In a recent statement to NRT TV, Sliwa declared “so far we cannot say any [minority] candidate won or lost the 2021 elections, except for Feyli Kurds, Yezidis, and Mandaeans.” Sliwa expects a change in the Christian candidates’ final results: “I think there will be a change in the final votes. The current results cannot be formally accepted until approved by the Federal Court,” he stated.

“Some parties are trying to dominate minority voices and exploit them for their own benefit. And this is not new. The Kurds, in particular the Kurdistan Democratic Party and some Shiite parties are trying to control votes of minorities in the Nineveh Governorate, Nineveh Plain, Kerkeslokh (Kirkuk), and other areas in which minorities compete.”

Joseph Sliwa pointed out that the taking of votes is done by the Popular Mobilization Forces, various security forces, the Peshmerga and the Zêrevanî‎ forces, by voting for a particular Christian candidate loyal to the Popular Mobilization Forces and some other Shia parties, including the Badr Organization and the Kurdish Democratic Party.

Four of the five seats in the October 10 elections went to the Babylon Movement and one to an independent candidate from the communist party in the Kurdish Region in Iraq.