Candidates Use Creative Ways To Reach Parliament

Yasin Taha Giving bed sheets and other small gifts might have turned old and fruitless for winning votes, as the parliamentary candidates turn to innovative ways to be elected in upcoming 12 May parliamentary election, which according to the last three tenures of 2005-2018, have born some fruit to the parliamentarians and their families. A few weeks before the election, rich and tribal diners have risen considerably in some provinces, especially in Diyala where the increase in animal slaughter have become a source of concern to the environment activists and medics. The province is already in danger of animal wealth extinction, while their meat is already heavily traded in the alleys without medical checks supervision.

Parliamentary candidates use pavers to pave the pitted roads of towns and villages temporarily.
Aside from Diyala province, which like many other provinces of Iraq, enjoys tribal norms, Facebook posts reveal that the demand on sand and gravel have increased in Iraq recently, as parliamentary candidates seek pavers to pave the pitted roads of towns and villages with sand and gravel, as a temporary solution. And that is all to pave their own way to parliament. A joke has been trending recently in Iraq which says the road to parliament is full of competition and danger, and it requires paving with gravel as it is difficult for those who walk through it, around seven thousand candidates for 329 seats of parliament.
Fallujah 20 March 2018, Muhammad Karbuli, one of the parliamentary candidates, decided to pave a road with sand and gravel. Photo courtesy of the personal facebook page of Karbuli.
The candidates who sponsor paving campaigns are on different blocs, and turned into the alternative municipality department in more than one province, after years of neglecting the roads and people complaining about how difficult they are for transportation. Some candidates who offer such services, take a photo with the gravel load trucks and some only write their names and their activity in a poster near the project. After the cabinet warned against trespassing on the role of municipalities and other relevant departments through such projects, some parliamentary candidates seek coordination with municipalities to mend the roads. However, the leader of Sadrist Movement finds it hard to believe that road paving could change the votes as he claims, “Our votes are more precious than sand and gravel.”
Some other candidates gather names to employ them.
A truck-load of mixed gravel costs around 100-200 thousand Iraqi dinars. Some contractors believe that millions of dinars have been spent on this item this year. Same political blocs and officials who claim that they cannot offer such projects due to the financial crisis and allocated amount of budget, offer such projects for free with unidentified sources of finance, in order to claim seats or before the end of their current tenure in official positions. Aside from sand and gravel, which have become a humorous topic in Iraq, some other parliamentary candidates gather employment forms under the payroll of Tribal Mobilisation or security volunteers. Some of them pay people as salaries, from what they have already allocated for election campaign. Iraqi prime minister insisted that it was permissible for people to receive the money, but they can also avoid voting for them as a punishment for using the public wealth for personal gains.
January 2018, Asaib Ahlul al-Haqq offices pave some roads with sand and gravel. Photo courtesy of the facebook page of Civilian Haqq Mobilisation.
Despite the fact that some candidates are busy with spending money through ad campaigns for the election, some other seasoned candidates share their photo with the aid they distribute, which is distributed by the ministry of Migration and Immigration continually. On one side of the aid box, a caption is written, “This person has provided” with their photos, without elaborating whether the aid is governmental or from the relief organizations. The relevant institutions from the ministry have often complained about this trend, as former parliamentarians have not even take time to take a photo of the actual aid caravans, but use the same photo already shared by the ministry. The campaigning ways increase each day the election approaches closer. Some female candidates happen to show up and shoot a footage where they were crying over the bad condition of Iraqis, hoping that the footage might move Iraqi people to deliver them to parliament. Some other female candidates seek beauty and make up, as to attract the attention of youths and other inquisitive groups which used to give cynical remarks concerning the way former MPs dressed.
Parliamentary candidates spend more than their possible future salary in election campaigns and ads.
Some other candidates which hold governmental positions, could not hold it any longer and sought to distribute aid or visit students. However, they were caught in arguments with school administrations and might well lose more than what they expected to gain, as a protest have been arranged against them, as it was the case of a member of Baghdad Provincial Council most recently. New ways of campaigning for elections have surprised the political observers in Iraq, as the candidates spend more than their possible pay-range in their future positions, especially after the reduction of MP salaries due to the financial crisis. However, the answer might be simple once we know that becoming a member of parliament may open the door to other benefits. There still remains allegations of bribe, gifts, overwhelming financial installments to the members of approval committees of government or investment projects.

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