Islamic Parties Fare Well in Iraqi, Saudi Elections

February 13, 2005


Wire Service: AP

On February 13, 2005 the Associated Press reported, "For years, opponents of free elections in the Arab world have whispered warnings that if democracy ever came to this region, Islamic fundamentalists would sweep to power. Now, with votes counted in Iraq and Saudi Arabia, it's clear there's truth to the idea that strongly conservative, Islam-driven candidates fare well. In Iraq, a coalition linked to the country's main Shiite Muslim cleric won 48 percent of the votes in the first free elections in a half-century. And in the first phase of Saudi elections for city councils, seven candidates with Islamist leanings won in Riyadh, the capital. Neither vote means a new wave of fundamentalism will soon flood this oil-rich region. In Iraq, the cleric's coalition will be forced to reach out to other parties to form a government, and its leaders have said they do not want an Iranian-style theocracy. In Saudi Arabia, a government already strongly Islamic could moderate the councils through appointments - and tribal candidates did well outside the capital."