The UN’s Special Representative in Iraq, Staffan de Mistura, was understandably pleased with the relative safety and stability of Saturday’s provincial elections. Even the turnout, though lower than expected, was “about average for provincial elections.” But more disturbing than a decline in overall turnout to 51%, from 58% three years ago, was the fact that many Iraqis did not get to participate at all:

[Mistura] explained that the first-time inclusion of a registration process, to lessen fraud, had probably dampened participation, while only 60,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) had voted, despite measures to increase their numbers.

There are an estimated 2.7 million displaced persons within Iraq (not to mention more than two million more living as refugees in Syria and Jordan). And while it is assuredly much, much harder to organize voting for people displaced from their homes, it is nonetheless unsettling that only 60,000 — under 3% — were able to participate in the process to select a government that should be treating their concerns as paramount on its agenda.

(photo of a displaced Iraqi woman, from flickr user jamesdale10, under a Creative Commons license)

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