The Land of Purple Fingers

[The following post was written last week in Erbil.]

ERBIL — Everywhere you look in Kurdistan, you see the remnants of the infamous purple ink used on election day on March 7. By this point, many have been worn down to a purple fingernail, but it is still clearly visible. Kurds seem to be especially proud of their purple fingers and never miss a chance to show it off. The symbolism of the ink-stained fingers sounds cliche in the U.S., but here it’s normal, yet many are still proud to display it. While in the U.S. it has been used as a symbolic political victory of democracy in Iraq, here it is fairly standard for its practical purposes. Presumably, the only way you can vote twice is to cut off your own index finger. It takes a few weeks for the purple ink to fully rub off.

The three provinces which make up the Kurdistan Region–Duhok, Erbil, and Sulaymaniyah–had the three highest voter turnout rates out of Iraq’s 18 provinces. Dohuk’s turnout was reportedly 80 percent, Erbil’s was 76 percent, and Sulaymaniyah’s was 73 percent. The average voter turnout in all of Iraq was around 62%.

For the past few decades, the Kurdistan Region of Iraq has been dominated by two main political parties, the KDP (Kurdistan Democratic Party) and the PUK (Patriotic Union of Kurdistan). Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan Region, is primarily controlled by the KDP, which is led by the Kurdistan Region’s President Massoud Barzani. Despite being united as part of the Kurdistan Alliance, there is no doubt which Kurdish political party was the victorious partner in the recent election. The yet-to-be announced, but widely expected victory of the KDP, has celebrations in the streets both day and night. There appears to be much less concern about what is happening in Baghdad. The primary focus here is Kurdish “domestic” politics.

Once darkness falls, small groups of cars begin driving around Erbil honking their horns, with people hanging out the windows waving KDP flags. Every 15 or 30 minutes another group passes my hotel celebrating until well after midnight. It is interesting that this is still happening, more than one week after the election. Apparently I missed the Kalashnikov’s being fired into the air during the first couple days after the election.

The Kurds of Iraq voted, they are happy that they have the opportunity to vote in a relatively free election, and they know that the Kurdistan Region is not on the verge of chaos. They are proud of what they have built in Kurdistan and they want to stay as far away as possible from the chaotic nature which often makes up the southern part of the country.

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4 Responses to “The Land of Purple Fingers”

  1. New Posts on The Other Iraq « The Mezze – المزة Says:

    […] The Land of Purple Fingers — The post-election scene in Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq […]

  2. Ali Says:

    I think ellection is Iraq was not fair and parties cheat as much as they could . I know so many people that they vote more than 5 times!!!

  3. The Other Iraq in Kurdistan Newspapers « The Other Iraq Says:

    […] Erbil to Sulaymaniyah. On March 27, Kurdish Globe featured two separate articles. The first was The Land of Purple Fingers which described the post-election scene in Erbil. The second was First Impressions from Kurdistan. […]

  4. The Other Iraq in Kurdistan Newspapers « The Mezze – المزة Says:

    […] from Erbil to Sulaymaniyah. On March 27, Kurdish Globe featured two separate articles. The first is The Land of Purple Fingers, which describes the post-election scene in Erbil. The second is First Impressions from Kurdistan, […]

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