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Christian Symbols and the Electoral Campaign in Iraq

The Patriarchate of Babylon has called on candidates seeking elections in Iraq's parliamentary elections scheduled for 12 May not to exploit religion to woo voters.

“Candidates in the upcoming Iraqi legislative elections should avoid exploiting symbols and references of a religious nature as electoral propaganda instruments,” the Chaldean Patriarchate of Babylon said in a recently published communiqué.

It asked candidates to make references “only to their professional competence and talents” during the campaign.

Christian candidates in particular “should avoid taking advantage of so-called support from ecclesiastical authorities,” it said.

Iraq's May 12 parliamentary elections will decide the next prime minister. These are the fourth elections since the fall of Saddam Hussein and the first since the defeat of the so called Islamic State in 2017.

The elections are based on a multi-party system and to win the premiership, a candidate needs to win majority of the votes, i.e. the votes of 165 lawmakers out of the 329-seat parliament.

Religion is playing a major factor in these elections. Iraq is a Shia Muslim majority country and Shia militias that rose to prominence because of the their offensive against Islamic State are fielding about 500 candidates against 7,000 other candidates.

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