Although many Iraqi parties continue to be organized along religious or ethnic lines, both the tone and the results of the 2010 parliamentary election campaign show that most Iraqi voters prefer a broader national agenda over narrow sectarian appeals.
After almost ten years of complex and costly efforts to build democracy in these two countries, where do things stand? What lay behind the critical choices that shaped events in these places, and what are their current prospects for success?
A review of The Occupation of Iraq: Winning the War, Losing the Peace by Ali A. Allawi.
Iraq’s three elections in 2005 highlighted the role—but also the limits—of electoral-system design in managing potentially polarizing divisions.
Whether ethnic, sectarian, or some combination of the two, communalsim is one of the massive realities of Middle Eastern life and politics. It is usually seen as an obstacle to democracy, but need that always be the case?
There is a widespread desire for democracy among the Iraqi public, but when it comes to the roles of religion, ethnicity, and gender equality in Iraq's new democracy, attitudes are more varied.
Even after its successful elections, Iraq remains a divided society. Democracy did not create these divisions, but it could be the key to managing them.
If Iraq is to become the free and self-governing country that an overwhelming majority of its citizens want it to be, a "useable past" made accessible by historical memory will be vital.