I attended Sweden’s 2014 election in the Orebro city. In my hometown Sulaimaniyah, a month before the elections – flags and posters are hung in the city’s walls, some wallpapers and flags are actually glued to the walls, making it tediously hard to remove later on.
The sky would be buried by the hanging flags between the poles. Orebro was free from the parties’ flags and there were posters in certain screens in the city. As for recruitment, there were small vans in the center of Orebro for youth to persuade people. Unlike in Sulaimaniyah, there weren’t people driving cars – filled with politicians’ pictures and parties’ flags – honking and disturbing the neighborhoods.
I rarely saw cars in Orebro, but in Sulaimaniyah people park their cars in the middle of the street. They would wave the parties’ flags in the midst of the street. This leads to a chaotic street and an inconvenient transportation system.
To avoid waiting in a queue, in Sulaimaniyah, it is better to go during lunch time because less people would be there. Usually, the voting places are very old schools with unpleasant – dark colors. As for Orebro, the voting was a beautiful and calm place. It was filled with red chairs surrounding by white tables with white flowers on.
The process went very quickly; people stood in line – for a few minutes, to get to the voting room. Afterwards, people went back to their everyday life. There were not people outside, causing disturbance to others while expressing their support to a specific party, after voting. In Sulaimaniyah, even after the voting process people still celebrate outside on the streets. Towards the night, the streets were deserted, in Orebro. Even the bars and restaurants were empty. People were in their houses waiting for the results of the election.
I got the chance to visit a radio station in Orebro, Public Services, and watch them announcing the results. Everyone there was in a rush following the changes very closely, but they knew the final result would be in the morning.
The next morning, it was announced the Social Democrats won the majority of the votes. It was a finalized; there was no prediction of any upcoming changes. When I was told the certain results would be revealed the next morning, it was conclusive.
In Iraqi Kurdistan, even after the voting you never know which party actually won the most votes. Each day, you hear about new results until the elections become old news and people yield to the mystery. Most of the time, the results are never fully announced and suddenly a government is formed not based on people’s votes.
Voting is a way for people to change a government with another they feel is more efficient. The voting itself is a way to express your support to a certain political party. Going outside and honking cars will not change the results of an election. If the purpose is recruitment, then annoyance is not the best tactic to accomplish that. Causing disturbance will not change the results. An individual’s daily life should not be forcefully affected by the election process.
The less it impacts an individual’s normal life, causing less chaos, the minor it becomes. That is how elections perceived: a minor thing in life that must happen. Once it is viewed that way, politics and politicians will not have that much power over people and the system. People will not give them the opportunity and power to think of themselves as controller but servers. They will understand they are there to serve the people not control them and accomplish their own interests.
The elections should be normalized as in every democratic country, meanwhile the parliament should regulate the elections processes that none of political parties should be allowed to pollute the environment.
Lana Khalid is a journalist. She is also studies Journalism at American University in Sulaymaniyah-Iraq.