Voters in Iraq’s semiautonomous Kurdistan region cast their ballots on Saturday in local presidential and parliamentary elections as a hunger for political reform clashed with a desire to maintain stability.
Turnout was high — 78.5 percent according to the Electoral Commission — and voting was extended by an hour to accommodate the crowds.
Preliminary results were not expected until Sunday, but by Saturday night an opposition party was already charging fraud and the governing coalition was claiming a regionwide lead.
There was little doubt here that the governing coalition would maintain its ironclad grip on this region of 4.5 million people. Many Kurds credit the regional government for the relative security and prosperity the region enjoys compared with the rest of Iraq. [continued…]