We discussed Iraq's election in our global phone-in programme, Talking Point.
Iraq's interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi has called Sunday's election a "victory over terrorism".
Mr Allawi also said that turnout among Sunnis was low but Iraqis must now unite, regardless of whether they voted.
The election was marred by a series of election-day attacks across Iraq which killed at least 36 people.
What do you think about the Iraqi election? Does it represent a new beginning for the Iraqi people? If you had a vote, did you use it?
This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.
The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we received:
I felt very happy when Iraq's election was successful with as few attacks as possible. But according to the radio-talk, I felt embarrassed as most of the people were against the election and were not accepting that a true election was needed for building a democratic constitution for Iraq. If I had been an Iraqi I would have used my vote. Unfortunately the tension between the Shia and Sunni became a strain for the election department.
Miss Rajani T, Warangal, India
The elections in Iraq (and Palestine) have demonstrated that people can break free of the murderous, medieval barbarism that has arrested the development of the Arab world for nearly a thousand years. This is a God-given opportunity to join the modern world. The real world.
Sebastian, San Francisco
Many people seem to misunderstand what this vote signifies. It is certainly symbolic, in that it demonstrates Iraqis' commitment to a free and democratic future, but it is much more than symbolic. This election is going to choose delegates for a constitutional convention. This is genuine progress, regardless of your personal feelings about America or President Bush. Shame on those of you who would dishonour the bravery and sacrifices of the Iraqi people out of contempt and cynicism. You don't deserve the freedom that the Iraqis are now earning.
Ben, Minneapolis, USA
Do the Iraqis know what they were voting for? Who and what are the candidates and issues without which the democratic process is meaningless? The Baathists were elected to power, and in Algeria the Islamists won a democratic election, only to be denied power. Iraqis know the U.S. will blow away any result it doesn't want, just as it did in Chile and elsewhere.
I don't know if voting is going to be a 100% guarantee for a better future for Iraq, but I know that not to do that is a 100% guarantee of remaining in this miserable situation the country is in, that is why I voted. I am terribly proud of being an Iraqi. Seeing those people going to voting centres on foot, risking becoming targets of violence, was an act of courage that can not be seen every day. If that display of courage was the only outcome of this voting then I would regard it as something worthwhile.
Ali, Netherlands, the Hague
I admire the Iraqis for voting under the circumstances. However, voting along ethnic and religious line is very dangerous. What is the US going to do when a democratic religious fanatic party comes to power?
From BBCArabic.com: I live in the Assadr area of Baghdad. While I was at my polling station, it came under attack by the Zarqawi group. Four people were killed and eight injured, including me. I cried and still cry not because of the pain in my body but because I missed my chance to vote as we had to be taken to hospital. I missed something I waited so long for.
Abbas Al-Musawi, Baghdad, Iraq
From BBCArabic.com: I have this to say to those who keep repeating the phrase "no elections under occupation". I am an election observer and will take part in the count. It is we who decide if the elections conducted properly and we have said that the elections were indeed conducted in fair manner. The elections in Iraq were much better than any other elections held in other Arab countries. Our problem here does not stem from the occupation but from some Arab countries which export terrorism to Iraq.
Haider, Basra, Iraq
From BBCArabic.com: I voted for a new Iraq. I voted so that mass graves are never again seen in Iraq. I voted so that the tragedy of Halabja is not repeated. I voted so that dictatorship can never get a foothold again. I voted to kick out terror from my country. I voted so that the occupation can end. I have a word to my Arab brothers: record 30 Jan 2005 in history. It was a turning point. We have had enough of these ruling families, the one party state and the one and only Leader. On 9th April 2003 the monument to dictatorship was toppled in Baghdad. On 30th January 2005, terrorism was dealt a blow and reason triumphed over the bullet.
Khalid Arikabi, Baghdad, Iraq
Bravo! Credit where credit is due. Congratulations to the Iraqi people for such a striking display of courage, and much thanks to the US, British and other coalition forces who have made this day possible. Regardless of the circumstances of the today's elections, the Iraqis have sent a loud and clear message to the rest of the world. It's a shame that apparently so many people are deaf to its contents.
Baiju Shah, Houston, Texas, USA
This is just a case of Iraq voting for a government (probably the one that's already in) and this new government asking the USA to leave. This is the USA's exit strategy. I think they should be ashamed of themselves, holding votes amidst so much chaos with no one checking its fairness. I think the votes had to be held otherwise it would have made it harder for the invading forces to leave.
Raf Hussain, UK
Congratulations to the Iraqi people who, despite the difficulties and threats, made a very important step forward.
While I am inspired by the large turnout at the polls in spite of the obvious danger that accompanied voting in Iraq and (and also disgusted at the recent low turnout in my own country, where no threat was posed to voters) I must question what significance, past the symbolic, this election will have. The deaths of a number of people throughout the country today are, however, very significant and very real.
The occupation of Iraq by American, British and other foreign troops is a problem of itself. The bigger problem is that this force is unable to maintain any stability in the country. How will the creation of a weak and divided government help? At best, this election is the necessary first step; at worst, it is another catalyst toward greater anarchy.
Carly, New York, NY
This is truly a triumph for the Iraqi people and shows their immense courage. They have voted against terrorism and shame on the media who continue to call the terrorists "insurgents". Bravo to the Iraqi people! Finally a glimmer of hope in the Middle East.
Alison, Lyon, France
It's amazing how many people are dazzled by this election. It's sad knowing the happy voters themselves are being strung along. The US will never allow a government to remain in power that would threaten its political, military and economic interests in the country, and the region. To believe otherwise is to delude oneself. The US will never leave unless it is certain it will not have to relinquish its hold.
Paul, Brussels, Belgium
The Iraqi elections are the most vital and important issue in the whole Iraqi history. The US and the UK should be praised for their help to make all this possible. Do not mind those terrorists (so called insurgents!), they already lost the battle. Things can't be reversed anyhow in Iraq. The Iraqi people will never forget what the Americans and the British did for them and the Iraqi people will never forget the damage and the harm which the terrorists did to the Iraqi people. Not only freedom will prevail soon in Iraq but in all this region. The Iraqi people will never accept to be ruled either by dictatorship nor by tyranny, that era is finished gone for good. God bless the Iraqi people and all people in the region and the whole world.
Faye, Abibou, Adigrat, Ethiopia
Please do not let us simply claim the end justifies the means. If somebody decides their system is better than ours in the West does that excuse invasion of our nation states? Self determination is arrived at and not imposed. It will be a very troubled and divided democracy in Iraq and I am sure everyone recognises that. It is common to fight war to protect democracy but rare to fight wars to impose it. The Iraqi people are only at the beginning of a very arduous journey back - let us not forget that before we claim a victory here. We call ourselves liberators but we should not have been carving the Middle East up in the last century to begin with.
Christopher Lamb, Edinburgh
A high voter turnout isn't indicative of "democracy" or a successful election. Millions of voters turned out for elections under Saddam Hussein, too. I remember the election a few years before the invasion when Hussein won 100% of the vote. There were pictures of "joyous" Iraqis at the polls then, too. There are a lot of Iraqis who aren't celebrating and who aren't happy. They don't even have electricity or water or gasoline. The major western media outlets won't interview those Iraqis, though.
Eric, Villanova, PA, USA
I was awestruck and humbled by the millions of Iraqis that walked, limped, where wheeled in wheelbarrows, and carried on the backs of their sons, through threat of death by bomb or beheading to vote. I have never been so moved. This was a beautiful day for all humankind.
Tom Penn, Knoxville, USA
The rightness or otherwise of the overthrow of Saddam Hussein's regime by the action of the coalition forces may still be talked of in the days to come. It only makes sense that what is perceived as a better alternative should be hoisted before the coalition forces withdraw. The successful election shows that Iraqis want to move out of medieval feudal system into the modern democratic system. Those who did not vote will in time learn that in democracy, political power is the birthright of every citizen. I wish the resolute Iraqis every success in the years ahead developing a more unifying constitution.
Josiah Fagbemi, Lagos, Nigeria
It is interesting that Iraqis are happy for the opportunity to vote, while many in other countries already enjoying freedom are so negative. To you Iraqis who just voted and are happy, congratulations! You know that freedom isn't free, but it's worth fighting for. I rejoice with you!
Cheryl, San Antonio, USA
How interesting that all the comments by Iraqis are positive! The people who opposed the invasion have to twist themselves into ever more convoluted knots in order to criticise these elections. Surely it is time to recognise that giving Iraqis a free vote is an unambiguous good, and that free elections are a crucial part of solving Iraq's problems? Why deny to them what everyone else would demand for themselves?
David Pritchard, Madrid, Spain (ex-UK)
Two-thirds of Iraqis cast their vote even with threats of death, yet in this country we consider a 50% turnout amazing.
Paul Weaver, Twyford, Berks
To all you brave Iraqis: Congratulations and best wishes for a peaceful, safe and happy future. You are a wonderful example to us all and put to shame those of us who have the freedom to vote and don't. I hope and pray that this election will be a great step forwards to attaining the freedom to govern your own country.
G Kendrick, UK
So the Shia and Kurds turned out in big numbers. So what? The problem in Iraq is the Sunni. Their turnout was low, for political or security reasons. Iraqi democracy cannot advance if the Sunni are not engaged, so I can't really see what all the fuss is about. Iraq has not advanced one iota.
Joe Ryan, Chartres, France
Well done Iraq. This election may not have been perfect but given the circumstances a triumph of people power; your bravery has to be applauded. The first step on the way to a full blown democracy. Don't let the terrorists deter you from this goal.
Neil McNaughton, London, UK
An election taking place under such conditions is not a proper democratic election. Who is counting the votes? Will the US army really allow a Iraqi who wants US troops off their soil within a few months to get elected, I don't think so.
David Kenny, Sligo, Ireland
I voted in Dubai-UAE, because I work in Saudi Arabia. It felt great! All my fellow Iraqis who were in the polling station were happy too. I salute each one of them, especially those living in Iraq, who risked their lives and defied the cowardly thugs of Saddam. When I dropped my voting card in the ballot box, a sudden electrifying thought went through my mind and brought tears to my eyes of absent friends, victims of the cursed Saddam regime. I dedicate my vote to all of them.
Suhaib, Ahmed, Kurkuk, Iraq
Today's elections were a great triumph of the human spirit. In spite of the threat of death hanging over them, the Iraqi people risked their very lives to come out and vote, and so secure for themselves a future in which they are free.
Thomas Maloney, Pittsburgh, USA
The elation of the Iraqi voters leaving the polling stations is not unlike that displayed when the statute of Saddam fell. This time, will it endure?
Bill Macdonald, Gig Harbor, USA
It's unbelievable that people say this isn't true democracy. These people aren't being dragged out of their houses by soldiers and sent to vote. They are choosing to do this. How dare these people belittle the Iraqi voters.
Josh, Ruidoso, USA
I wonder how this election can be said to have been free and fair. Haven't we learnt that hurried elections as a means of stopping conflict don't necessarily lead to peace and democracy? All this election has shown us is that Iraq is a divided state. The international community should heal that divide first before elections
Chrysantus A, Johannesburg, South Africa
Trumpeting the close of the election is disingenuous - there was never any doubt that this process would come to a finish. The issue is whether the population accepts the results (many won't of course). When disenfranchisement becomes institutional, terrorism will continue as rife as it is now. The UK and USA will waltz out in a year or two after another $200 million spent, a few hundred more dead soldiers and another Saddam Hussein will rise. Where will this all end? Look what happened to the Shah in Iran.
Ray T, London, UK
Give democracy a chance. This is the best thing to have happened to Iraqi in half a century. Maybe five years down the line people will look back and say "that was Iraq's finest hour - it was the transition point!"
Haji Sabul Bulle, Amsterdam
I can't believe that people are calling this a free vote! This is a staged propaganda event. The candidates weren't even announced until 4 hours beforehand! It makes me very sad to see how easily people believe the propaganda they are fed.
Duncan Hothersall, Edinburgh, Scotland
The elections are so easily labelled as the first "free' elections in decades. My question to people in the west or for that matter to those living in free societies is; would you label such elections as "free" if they are held in your own countries under similar circumstances? Probably not!
Hasan Bin Hamza, Karachi, Pakistan
The election process has been rejected by a high percentage of Iraqis, this spells doom for democracy in Iraq. Classifying voters as either Sunnis, Shias or Kurds will produce a very unstable Iraq for many years to come.
Daniel Maimbo, Lusaka, Zambia
Congratulations Iraq! I'm so happy for you, the good news made my day. To all the naysayers: you need to read up on history, this is not the first time an election has occurred under an occupying force or threat of violence.
Matt, Philadelphia, USA
Matt of Philadelphia would presumably give up and comply if a foreign power occupied Philadelphia and told him to vote for whatever candidates they chose for him. Come on, Matt! You are happier for Iraq than it is for itself!
Richard, Reykjavik, Iceland
Elections and voting are good. However, democratic freedom actually depends on other things. I am concerned that this election was devised by Americans, whose own democracy is a dichotomy of choice. With a choice of only two parties Americans could only have less freedom if there was more than four years between elections. What a pity Americans believe they are the personification of the free.
I've just returned from the polling station. To my surprise, a large number of people have shown up to vote: men and women, Muslims and Christians, Sunnis and Shias. Terrorists have threatened voters in my neighbourhood to choose between their life or election. Still, none of the voters seemed to be afraid. To me and to many Iraqis, I think, it is a matter of life and death to this wounded country. It is the unbending will of man that can never be defeated by terror.
I salute all the brave Iraqis who came forward despite threats from terrorism. This historic event is a major step for Iraq's peace and prosperity.
Zaman, Bayreuth, Germany
Does Bush think that this will create democracy in Iraq? Do you think the Sunnis will stop this war on the invaders? Well all I can say is that Bush, you made a stupid mistake. This is not creating democracy but forcing democracy.
Jalil Alkozai, Essex, UK
I am fed up with the stupid analysis of non-Iraqis about the legitimacy of the elections. Yes, the elections in Iraq are legal and representative. If you don't believe me then look at the happy faces of Iraqis who have voted. The people of Iraq have spoken. Iraq will not be the first country that holds elections under occupation or under the shadow of violence (examples like Palestine, Kosovo, Bosnia, East Timor, Germany, Austria, Japan, Sri Lanka and Columbia come to mind) nor will it be the last.
Mohammad al Zubaidy,
Violence shrouds the entire voting process. The ballots are confusing and many candidates were kept secret until polls opened. We must ask ourselves, if this kind of so-called democratic election were carried out in Syria, Iran or North Korea, would the US accept it as a legitimate election?
Mark Beauchamp, Montreal, Canada
From early reports it appears that Iraqis in the south and north are turning out in higher numbers than predicted. Only in the Sunni/terrorist dominated central area are there low numbers of voters. After 45 years of subjugation the oppressed majority is about to take control of Iraq. Surely a democratic triumph?? If the Sunnis don't participate, have they anyone to blame but themselves if they don't have a voice in the new government??
John R Smith, UK
No matter which side of the political divide you fall on, it's hard not to view the pictures of Iraqis eagerly voting in a free election with exaltation and pride. Congratulations to the people of Iraq for fortifying their resolve in the face of threatened attacks and moving one step closer to a truly free Iraq. Congratulations must also be given to the US and British military forces for the important part they have played in moving Iraq forward to this historic day.
Anuj Shah, New York, NY
The people of Iraq have humbled me by their courage. I suspect that many of us in democracies would falter at the prospect of voting when it could cost our lives.
Mark, Denver, CO, US
This is an Iraqi matter, to be settled by Iraqis, and not the US government. Democracy forced under guns, tanks by US appointed puppets is not the answer.
Maria, San Diego USA
I just glad that the Iraqis now have a free vote and a free country. I'm glad that the cynicism that comes from the BBC and other media organisations has been proved wrong. well done Iraq.
Dan Cross, Edinburgh, Scotland
In 20 years time history books will recount this step towards freedom and will find success or failure based on an Iraqi future that is yet to be determined. Until then I choose to be optimistic about this first small step.
Mark Weiler, Norfolk, VA
If everything is controlled by an occupation force of a country how can voting can be considered as indicative of people's will? A government without the freewill of its people will not be democratic. So what is done in Iraq is a colonial farce.
Usuf, Kannur, India
My prayer goes to the Iraqi people for their bravery. Half a loaf is better than none. This is a good start for a future democratic Iraq.
Kajobinyi, Alexandria, Egypt
It is not this election but the next unmoderated one that worries me. Will democracy work without military enforcement in Iraq?
Sammy, Letchworth, Herts, UK
I am really saddened to see so many negative comments about the Iraqi elections. Anyone who says this is all about Bush and the Americans does nothing but slap each voting Iraqi in the face. Each Iraqi bravely set out today against the violence and took a stand in order to express themselves. This is to be commended and encouraged not trivialized.
J Powell, Minneapolis, MN USA
I have just spoken with an Iraqi Sunni friend in Baghdad and he told me how so many people in his neighbourhood are so happy! The insurgents, not the Americans, are the real problem in the country. This election is not about the US controlling oil, it's about giving the Iraqis the right to choose. We will leave Iraq in the next few years, God willing. And I pray for all those Iraqis who have the courage to stand up to the insurgents, who are the ones who are killing the Iraqi people and security forces. Wake up Europe and the rest of the world. Just because you don't like George Bush, it doesn't mean that you have to denounce this day.
Bill, Jacksonville, North Carolina
I'm only interested in what the Iraqi voter has to say here. All of the Bush bashing in the world cannot change the fact that women in Iraq can now have a voice. It is a positive step forward towards a very bright future indeed!
Jen, Fort Myers, FL, US
It is interesting to see Saudis and other complain about the Iraqi elections. Since when did those countries ever have any sort of election?
Ytt Kealoha, Hilo, Hawaii, USA
How can any elections in an occupied country under constant threat of terrorism ever be a success?
Vlad, Toronto, Canada
To Rosario Miguel, NY: "This election will not really represent what the Iraqi people want." On the contrary, this election very clearly shows what Iraqi people want. They want their country back. They want the violence to stop. And they want to experience the sweet taste of freedom. Shame on all you naysayers who purport to speak for the Iraqis!
Andrea, NY, USA
As phone in reports from Iraqis clearly show as well as the huge turn out for voting in Iraq one should now consider congratulating President Bush and Tony Blair, with the other coalition governments for their tremendous sacrifices to bring about this very important step towards democracy in Iraq. In my opinion Saddam Hussein was the most important weapon of mass destruction found and dealt with in Iraq.
Peter Doyle, Riode Janeiro, Brazil
I am delighted today to cast my vote and attempt to make a difference for our beloved country. This is only the beginning of the road to democracy. We cannot achieve democracy overnight. If anything this is our vote against Saddam's tyrannical brutal dictatorship. This is our vote against the Baathists thugs who are trying to use fear and violence as their last resort. And finally a vote to tell our neighbouring countries to stop interfering in our destiny. Iraq is for Iraqis and we shall march to democracy.
Omar Barzanji, Dubai- United Arab Emirates
The courage shown by the Iraqi voters is breathtaking. The terrorists who have tried to bomb the Iraqi people back to Saddamist slavery have failed.
Paul C, Glasgow, UK
This election in Iraq is a historic one. It helps to Iraqis people to think that they have achieved something , Iraqis people will think - they are free and they can determine their own destiny.
Shyam KC, Sydney, Australia
I flew 4,000 miles last week to register for the Iraqi elections, but the Newfoundland winter stopped me from flying there to actually vote. Sunday morning, my first priority was to get to the CNN website, and there it was, violence was sporadic┐ poling stations packed with voters┐" It felt good. This day is a historic day, one that brings us the real voice of the Iraqi people, the mighty voice of the vote. I am saddened that I could not cast my vote. I had intended it to be a vote of Canadian support to freedom and democracy. Meanwhile, I am ecstatic for the countless Iraqis back in the old homeland, who voted to tell us that they are still alive, they are still hopeful and they are still carrying on the painful journey.
Dr Rafi Setrak, Newfoundland, Canada
This election should form a basic eye opener for Middle East kingdoms.
I have spent my year in Iraq. I have gotten know the Iraqi people. Please do not give in to the naysayers that say this will not work - the Iraqi people are very courageous and really want freedom.
Alan Hardy, Treynor, IA, USA
You need only read the post from Louay Al-Tahan in Baghdad. It says it all. Congratulations and prayers to Iraqi people all over the world!
MG Kimbrough, Delaware, USA
I genuinely don't understand what people expect to achieve by not voting - many people, Iraqis and others have died to make their democratic right to vote possible and to refuse to do so shows contempt for the sacrifices that so many have made; sacrifices of their time, energy and all too often, their lives.
Gemma, Nantes, France
I opposed the war because of the vainglorious way in which it was started. However I salute the Iraqi people's thirst and struggle for democracy and hope that they achieve it.
Ed Hulme, St Albans, UK
My heartfelt hope is that the Iraqi people make their voices heard in this election and that they are the winners today. Obviously there are risks and forces against the success of this election but I pray for the people of Iraq to send a message today: "We will say how our country is governed and no one will stop us."
Jack Augsbury, George Town, Cayman Islands
What sort of elections are these that are taking place under curfew and sealed borders? Obviously, these elections are meant to bring in a government to condone Bush's actions. This is a mockery of free and fair elections.
Imran Qadir, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
I'm happy to see Iraqis are enjoying their right to choose after five decades of cruel dictatorship and fear. I'm praying for a better Iraq just for the Iraqis.
Muhammad Ali Panhwar, Khairpur, Pakistan
This is basically a good step for Iraqis but the presence of US occupation only makes this an imperial attempt to show who is boss in the Middle East. "Bushinisation" will never succeed in the world, free or not free.
Reggie Deighton, Englewood Florida USA
I am proud of the Iraqis who have gone to vote today for the first time in their history - democratically. I loathe those who criticise George W Bush and today I congratulate him for making it possible for the Iraqi Nation and its people (despite what the Europeans or any other nation on earth may say) to carve out their own destiny after the votes have been counted. May God Bless USA and its ally Great Britain for doing the hardest work in this area. Well done to all the soldiers who participated in bringing freedom to Iraq and may they continue their good work in helping to bring about democracy.
Joy Butler, Wiesbaden, Germany
Voting cannot bring peace to Iraq and democracy cannot be spread by force!
Hashim Omer, Mogadishu, Somalia
The elections are one big sham organised by the US. What is the use of organising elections when there is no value for Iraqi lives? The lives of innocent Iraqis haven't changed since the Saddam days where water, housing and security were denied to these poor and unfortunate victims of crazy political leaders.
Nithin Jayanth, Bangalore, India
Why is it the West seems to be obsessed with democracy and convinced that it would make the Middle East into a better place? From what I see, the Western concept of democracy means that the rich can buy power, like the American elections proved. Common sense and intellect has no place in this so-called democratic process. Western-styled democracies have also proven that once you have bought your power in elections, you are free to exploit and murder other humans who have no power to remove you from power, other than by violent means. People in power should be those that have integrity, morals and especially honesty. We in South Africa were fortunate to have one like that - Nelson Mandela. Sadly, in Iraq, the opposite is true.
Jakes, Johannesburg, South Africa
Let's give the Iraqis more credit than we give them. I believe they can rise above the atrocities to show the world that they are also capable of choosing their own leaders. Violence can't be avoided because there are groups who are opposed to the elections. However, I see this political activity as the start to the much-awaited democracy in Iraq.
Nanette Guadalquiver, Iloilo City, Philippines
Two things are going to be guaranteed after today's election. Firstly, the US and its partners in Iraq will declare the elections a success, because that's what politicians do. Secondly, whatever the outcome of the election, the Iraqi leadership will be more likely to carry out the wishes of the US than of the Iraqi people, as the occupiers wouldn't have invested the billions of war dollars for anything else. I hope for the best possible future for Iraq and hope that all occupying forces are removed as soon as possible to let Iraq find its own democratic way.
Mike C, Essex, UK
The Iraqi people are the heroes today. Not the politicians or anyone else. They deserve to have a great life like many of us have in the free world.
Jack, Washington DC, USA
This is completely farcical. It's a mess and has nothing to do with democracy.
James K, Exeter/ UK
All the best Iraq! Don't listen to all those pessimists who don't think much of these historical elections, which although not perfect, are at least the first of many more to come. Those moaning about it would be happy to see you continue under Saddam's tyranny indefinitely. We stand by you on this day!
YJ, Arad, Israel
The election is not only a good thing for Iraq, it is an important example to people in other countries who don't have the right to vote or who can only vote in elections that have very limited choices. I wish more reporters covering this election would comment about that rather than focusing on low turnouts in some areas or on the threat of terror.
John Pietz, Yokohama, Japan
Unbelievable. Just voted. The feeling is great. No pre-marked ballots. No one ordering us to select a group. No intimidation. Dignified. I could go on forever. Turnout is high in my area, a mixed Sunni-Shia area. This is the first step. World watch out we are on our way to total freedom.
Louay Al-Tahan, Baghdad, Iraq
I woke up this morning very excited about the election. I am glad to hear, despite earlier reporting to the contrary, that Iraqis are interested and participating in large numbers. It is sad to watch the insurgents trying to stop the election with intimidation and violence (Saddam's old tools). Still, it appears the insurgents are succeeding only in disenfranchising their own constituency. Slowly, imperfectly, the Iraqis are building a democracy right before our very eyes. Amazing! I wish them strength, courage and perseverance.
Steve Mac, Boston MA USA
When the US held it's first elections only property holding white males could cast votes. It took many years for a true and open democracy - a government for all the people - to evolve. It is irrational to think that tomorrow the Iraqi people will have a government that matches the US system now. We fought a war for our own independence, aided by foreign powers and we struggled through the painful and often violent formative years afterward. It was worth the struggle, and with perseverance and support, the Iraqi's will succeed. I wish them the best.
Jim Stephenson, Lakeland, Fl, US
This election is a game for Bush administration. It's success will result to an economic boom for US.
Maical, Paris, France
Having read all of the criticism of the elections, I have yet to see a viable alternative on a better way forward. No, it's not perfect, but under the circumstances, it is a way forward. If anyone can propose a better way forward, please do. If you can't, then let's not wallow in unproductive criticism.
John Wendt, Kampala, Uganda
What Iraqis will do by voting today is that they will send the occupation away. I am calling on all Iraqis to go and vote. Unfortunately, the suicide bombers are just a few ignorant people being used by some Iraqi extremists. I believe that there will be an end to this very soon. I am sure that not a single Iraqi likes the Americans, but the clever thing to do is to go and vote for a better life.
Mr H Doko, London UK
A page is turned over, another is opened. Even though a bloody civil war is ahead, we need to have a new elected authority in Iraq involved in a flexible political process open to all.
Leopold Djuma, Bukavu, DRC
The future of Iraq depends on what they do today.
Peter Samboko, Kitwe, Zambia
Why all the paranoia? I have yet to see anything in either the coverage of the Afghani election, or indeed in this election that suggests that the Americans have an agenda of "neo-colonialism" unless those words mean "attempting to make the lot of the people in these countries better, and giving them a chance at a democratic future". Germany, Japan and South Korea are genuine democracies now. In ten years time we will see whether this election was what it was always intended to be; the first, rather than last, step on a long and painful road to a peaceful and democratic Iraq.
Chris, Birmingham, UK
Fifty comments on a web bulletin board do not a scientific study make, but it is interesting to see how the views here break down demographically and geographically. The majority of negative comments on the elections appear to come from those who are not Iraqi or those who live outside of Iraq (particularly the UK) while the most optimistic comments come from the Iraqi people themselves. Perhaps this is a reflection of the distinction between those who are enjoying their first taste of freedom in 50 years as compared to those who take freedom for granted in the West. Or perhaps it is the result of months of predominantly negative reporting on the war and its aftermath by Western journalists?
Henry S., London, UK
The fact that the Iraqi election is taking palace "no matter what" it shows how uncaring Bush is about the Iraqi lives and about the possibility of having the country slip into a civil war. He only cares about his own word and promise to have the election on time no matter what.
This is the day when a new nation will be born. A nation that belongs to all Iraqis regardless of their religion, ethnicity or sect. A nation based on the principle of partnership and the equality in rights between all the citizens. This is the day when intimidation and fear will not be the means for ruling any more against the will of the majority of people but the ballot box will be the only acceptable mean for governing.
Luay Abdulilah, Iraqi in London, UK
An election where not everyone gets a vote is meaningless. The whole thing is laughable and whatever the result, America will continue to control Iraq's oil and wealth.
Ray Hewitt, Bracknell England
I am happy that finally the day is here and the people of Iraq will respect the day and vote against the dictatorship and hope for peace to prevail in the new Iraq.
Renu, Toronto, Canada
I think it is ridiculous for the terror groups currently causing so much havoc and pain in Iraq to claim they are doing all those horrible things for the Iraqis when they are destroying infrastructure, homes, lives and practically sending the country back to the Stone Age. They are the ones killing, destroying and disrupting any sort of progress the country is trying to make. The Americans aren't doing this- they are. There are better ways of showing love to your country.
Elizabeth Sensele, Kitwe, Zambia
I am boycotting the election after registration last week. Mr Bush wanted the election to go on in spite of objections from most Iraqis. The timing is wrong. As an Iraqi I would ask how many international observers are monitoring the elections? Only 118 and most of them are staying in the Green Zone. If Zimbabwe was running this standard of election, would it be credible and accepted from Mugabe?
Dr Naseer Abdul Samad, Kent UK
I strongly believe that this election will succeed, because of the feeling of Iraqi liberation. If the world accepted Mahmoud Abbas as the new elected Palestinian president with only 30% participation, they should consider whoever comes out of this elections as properly elected.
Arshed A Jaafar, Baghdad, Iraq