Iraq Elections
Wathiq Khuzaie/Getty ImagesUpdated Feb. 5, 2010
New York Times

Iraq's parliamentary elections are scheduled for March 7, 2010. When the election was planned, it was hoped that it would produce a legislature that more fully represents Sunnis, who largely boycotted the 2005 vote, and one less divided along sectarian lines.

But the preparations have instead highlighted the continuing conflicts between the country's parties and ethnic groups, raising tensions before the official campaigning even begins. The date of the voting was pushed back from January because of lengthy delays in getting campaign laws through Parliament.

And the country was brought to the verge of a political crisis in early 2010 when the electoral commission disqualified about 500 candidates because of their ties to the Baath Party of Saddam Hussein. The move was seen by Sunnis and Shiites as a heavyhanded attempt by the party led by Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki to block rivals. It was overturned by an appeals court, which said the question of disqualifications should be taken up after the election potentially setting up an even more bitter conflict over removing elected legislators.