December 24, 2004

Vague Reply

Well that's odd. The IRI has a new poll on Iraqi public opinion out. In general, Iraqis have more confidence in the interim government and Iyad Allawi now than they did in September, and optimism is unbelievably high in non-Sunni areas (and unbelievably dismal in Sunni areas and Kirkuk). But that's not what's odd. What's odd is that, of those who do not intend to vote in the upcoming elections, over 74 percent gave "no answer" for their reason. (12 percent cited the "security situation", 6 percent "don't trust elections process," 3.2 percent "don't know about parties or candidates", 2 percent cite some higher authority.) But "no answer"?

Perhaps the pollsters framed the question badly. Perhaps Sunnis don't want to appear bigoted by saying nasty things about Shiites. Or perhaps those who don't intend to vote have very vague reasons for it—a general sense of ill-boding, uncertainty about the new government—and haven't actually rallied around concrete, well-expressed grievances. That seems like good news—in theory we'd only see large-scale sectarian conflict or civil war if all of the "dead-enders" had very specific reasons for fighting. (Is that how civil war works?) But I don't really know.
-- Brad Plumer 1:07 PM || ||