Election campaigns for Iraq’s federal parliamentary election officially began in the second week of April and will see 88 different electoral lists vie for 329 seats in parliament. With so many different political parties and electoral entities competing with one another – and given that many of these parties do not have clear policy platforms to separate themselves – many of them resort to bribing voters in order to earn their votes.
Outside personality politics of party leaders, one tactic that has been used over the past decade in Iraq’s nascent democracy is illegally buying votes. This was first seen with little incentives such as handing out phone cards when mobile phones first entered the Iraqi market after 2003. This tactic slowly evolved to handing out larger household appliances and later on turned to land handouts and guaranteed public service employment. Because those corrupt parties and candidates focus on vulnerable, low income areas, thousands of Iraq’s poorest voters end up falling for these material gifts out of desperation or ignorance.