Today’s Fact of the Day, according to the White House:
Iraqis are enthusiastic about voting in the National Assembly on January 30.
I suppose it depends on how you define the word enthusiastic.
The preliminary findings of a new internal US State Department poll on Iraq (news – web sites) obtained by AFP shows only 32 percent of Sunni Muslims are “very likely” to vote in landmark national elections this month and only 12 percent consider the event legitimate.
The survey, conducted from December 12-26 by the State Department’s Bureau of Research and Intelligence (INR), revealed major concern among Sunnis about the security situation in Iraq, with 88 percent saying the threat of violence would keep them away from voting centres.
The poll, which has not been released publicly, found three-quarters of Iraq’s influential Shiite majority, who make up 60 percent of the country, would boycott elections if called upon to do so by a respected religious leader.
Even if Sunnis want to vote, the danger of attacks by insurgents could very well keep them from heading to the voting booth.
“Sixty one percent of Arab Sunnis are very concerned about their family’s safety versus 24 percent of Shiites,” the poll said.
The poll also found “88 percent of Sunni(s) and 38 percent of Shiite(s) would stay home if there are threats of violence against polling stations.”
Asked if they thought the vote would “be completely free and fair” 52 percent of Arab Shiites answered yes, while only 12 percent of Sunnis gave a positive answer. In comparison, 37 percent of Sunnis and just five percent of Shiites said the vote would “not be free and fair.”
Meanwhile, most Shiites, who have overwhelmingly backed the election, said they would skip the vote if called to do so by a religious leader they trusted.
“Seventy-six percent of Arab Shiite would comply with a boycott called by a trusted religious figure compared to 32 percent of Arab Sunnis,” the poll said.