Iraqis voted Wednesday in the first elections since the withdrawal of U.S. troops and Alhurra-Iraq and Radio Sawa provided wall to wall coverage. Alhurra-Iraq’s live continuous coverage of the Iraqi Parliamentary election began at 8 a.m. (all times are Baghdad time)and continued through 1:30 a.m. with correspondents reporting from throughout the country including Baghdad, Al Ramadi, Kirkuk, Erbil, Basra, Najaf, Sulaymania, Mosul, Hilla and Naseriya.
Alhurra-Iraq’s coverage looked at the impact of the security situation on voter turnout, and the network’s localized programming provided voters with up-to-the-minute reports from polling stations around the country, so viewers could see for themselves other Iraqis safely voting. The influence of political advertising was also examined, with reports on the financial disparity between different political blocks and the influence of cleric endorsements.
Alhurra-Iraq’s also interviewed Iraqi and American experts, including the Iraqi Ambassador to the U.S., who talked about the impact of sectarianism on the election. He said the Iraqi people are still getting used to the democratic system and there needs to be a better mechanism for voters to get to know the different platforms of the candidates.
Alhurra-Iraq also extended its daily newscast, Iraq Today, and the political talk show Free Hour, to two hours to provide analysis of the Iraqi election with guests such as Ali Dabbag, former spokesman for the Iraqi government; National Endowment for Democracy’s Abdul Rahman al-Jubouri; Amb. James Jeffrey, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy; and Ayad Alanbari, Political Science Professor at the University of Kufa.
Leading up to the April 30th election, Alhurra-Iraq provided extensive coverage of the preparations including a special episode of Talk of Two Rivers that broadcast from the Electoral Commission headquarters and included representatives from the Commission that explained the electoral process. The daily political program, In Iraqi hosted a round table discussion with Members of Parliament regarding the possibility of change with the election. Al Youm looked at Iraqis’ aspirations for change, as well as the expectation for voter turnout and the impact the election will have on the future of the country’s stability. Al Youm also looked at the role of minorities in the Iraqi election.
Radio Sawa’s Iraq stream extended key newscasts to 30 minutes and provided live continuous coverage from 7 p.m.-midnight. Radio Sawa interviewed Iraqis from across the country about their expectations for the election. The network also reported on a Kurdish television network that refused to air ads produced by the Election Commission. Radio Sawa profiled some of the female candidates and looked at the support they received from Iraqi activists; as well as some complaints that a quota system is unfairly helping female candidates. Radio Sawa profiled workshops that teach those presiding over the election how to use the new voting technology. Radio Sawa’s reporters in the U.S., France, Austria, Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt covered Iraqi’s voting overseas.
Alhurra.com and RadioSawa.com highlighted the exclusive reports from the television and radio network to make them available on the websites, as well as Facebook and Twitter.