1925 Jan 23
The Electorate Prodigious.
The Government of Iraq, in its first attempt hold a general election under the State’s new Constitution, finds itself confronted with an obstacle as embarrassing as it is unusual. The number of prospective voters who figure on the newly compiled electoral roll is fully three times greater than the number in the country. Calculations for the first Parliament reckoned upon some 3,000,000 voters at most—a number based on the census taken by British officials in 1920. But no less than 9,000,000 are returned in the rough-and-ready census lately conducted by the Iraquis themselves. Since the size of the Chamber of Deputies is to be settled by the numbers of the electorate, it would be trebled if the new figures were accurate, and so would the amount allowed for payment of members, which at £270 per head per session is a considerable figure. But the 9,000,000 is recognised to be fantastic, and the explanation, our Bagdad correspondent suggests, is to be found in the duplicity of many of the sheikhs. Some of them no doubt, and these the more powerful, have little motive for exaggerating their “gun strength” to the Government; but it is all to the political advantage of the lesser chieftains to overstate the number of their followers, and they seem to have done so on a reckless scale. Some discrepancy between the facts and the figures returned was expected, but in the fact of an electorate suddenly swollen to three times its estimated size the Premier and the Cabinet have called a halt. There will be no Iraq general election in the meantime. Presumably the next step will consist in tactfully suggesting to the sheikhs that their arithmetic may conceivably be fault and securing an estimate of the population that makes some approach to the truth. Meanwhile Iraq must do without a Parliament at a time when she needs its services. It had been hoped that when the all-important question of the northern boundary comes to be discussed, as it must before long, it might be brought before a Parliament fully representative of the main streams of opinion in the country—those of Basra, of Bagdad, of Mosul, of the holy cities, and of the tribes. That now seems improbably. But it is to be hoped that the drastic step of postponing the elections may speedily convince even the most unscrupulous of the sheikhs that conjuring with the electoral roll is not ultimately to their advantage.
1925 Mar 07
SHEIKS SHOW APTITUDE FOR POLITICAL CHICANERY
Bagdad, Feb. 6.—(By the Associated Press).—Although the total population of Iraq is less than 3,000,000, the parliamentary election returns submitted from all districts indicate that there are no fewer than 10,000,000 voters in the country. It appears that some of the tribal sheiks, with political ambitions, were inclined to exaggerate the number of their tribes when compiling their election registers.
An official investigation is now being made into this sudden swelling of the population, and the election results are being held up until the inquiry has been concluded. Democracy is likely to have many more unforeseen results in Iraq. It is significant that eagerness to be represented in the parliament of Iraq outweighed the important consideration that, if compulsory military service were ever introduced, large quotas of men would be expected from tribes with long lists of voters.
It is urged that a reliable census of Iraq be made. It would not be a novelty in the country. The rulers of ancient Babylonia knew with a fair degree of accuracy how many men they held under their sway.
[Alternate headline from Arizona Daily Star, Tucson, AZ, 1925 Mar 19: "SHEIKS LEARNING POLITICAL METHODS" https://www.newspapers.com/image/163139462/]
1925 Dec 22
The Labour Party walked out of the House of Commons in a body yesterday and took no part in the debate on Iraq and Mosul. Their action, it was explained, was a protest against the action of the Government in insisting on rushing such an important subject through at the end of the session.