This is a second page of your comments.
The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:
Despite the attacks the people are voting. This is a success as it has defied the threat of the insurgents on the election. However, a lot is expected from the incoming leaders to bring the Sunnis to agreement.
Solomon, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
I find myself humbled by the courage of the common people of Iraq who are braving death threats to cast their votes. Nobody is forcing them to do so, they are expressing their own will and defying those who don't want them to be able to determine their own future. I will treasure my own right to vote freely and without fear even more because of this.
Sally Clark, UK
God help the Iraqis. It was a lofty plan to try and change their lives by force, but the US wants them to be in charge and to be co-operative with the rest of the world. This is a turning point for them. They, and only they, can halt the radical, barbaric movement within their borders which is so horribly opposed to democracy and freedom.
John Briscoe, Goleta, CA, USA
The mere fact that a free election is being held in Iraq today is not only a great victory for the Iraqi people and the president Bush but also yet another defeat for the European liberal left which has claimed all along that such an election would never take place and that if it did the Bush Administration would never accept its outcome if it was not to its liking.
Mirek Kondracki, Bielsko-Biala, Poland
Lambs to the slaughter- that's the best way to describe the poor Iraqi voters. They are to be slaughtered either at the polling station after having voted or in the bleak future that is ahead of them. The most basic principle of democracy is freedom to vote. How can it be said that the Iraqis are today free to vote when they are occupied and threatened by outsiders, either from the West or other Middle East Regimes?
Kash B, London, UK
I have spent seven months of my life serving the British Army as an infanteer in Iraq and have had to put up with the moaning and bickering about why we're out there and that the war was illegal, so to see what is going on today out there, even though there is still a lot to do! With any luck this will make people see that what the British and American forces have done has been more than worth while.
Mike Jones, Colwyn Bay
Something good may result from this election. But only by some fortunate quirk of fate, for "democratic" it cannot be. In any case, it will be hailed as a roaring success by Bush and his gang even if the electoral turnout is derisory.
Robert Rogerson, Port Alberni, Canada
While I do believe that the elections will be a monumental for Iraqis, the suggestion of a free and fair election under US and British occupation is not only a preposterous thought to me as an American citizen, but under international law they are to be considered null and void. I hope that the situation in Iraq will improve for the sake of the Iraqis, but elections under the guise of fear and military occupation are unreasonable.
Michael Friedman, St Simons Island, Georgia, USA
Election activities including campaigns and voting are the foundations on which freedom, independence and good governance are built or reinforced. But an election conducted in the midst of fear, curfew, ban on civilian traffic and heightened security is a bad beginning for democracy, freedom, and good governance. However, in as much as things are not as good as they ought to be, the Sunday poll will serve as a solid beginning for a solid democracy in non-democratic Iraq.
Aroun Rashid Deen, New York, USA
It's up to the voters. For those that say a low Sunni turnout somehow tarnishes the result, remember they are a minority who ruled for years. Did any low turnout of whites in South Africa or Rhodesia/Zimbabwe invalidate those independent elections ? Of course not. The job of those elected is primarily to come up with a new constitution to be voted on in a year or so. Good luck to them, they more than deserve it.
To All Iraqis: Don't worry about the negative comments the world says about your elections, because the birth of America's democracy was bloody, hastily and poorly organized, and criticized as a doomed government only to fall into anarchy. In the early years of our democracy we fought each other, drew lines in the sand, clashed over fair representation, and had a weak confederation. The European superpowers and the World took great pleasure in criticizing the USA just like they are doing to Iraqis now! Look at how 13 colonies of farmers, merchants, and fishermen grew into a world superpower.
Jerry C Herst, Washington DC, USA
I wish all of this could be accomplished with less destruction and bloodshed. No-one can change the past, so let us hope the winners will treat losers with respect and participants will treat the non-participants with fairness. A lot depends on the wisdom of the elected.
Mohammad Ali Khan, Potomac, USA
The fact that the elections are being held, makes it a success. The first step to freedom and democracy is for the individual voter to have the courage to vote and thus stand up to the threats of the terrorists. Nothing threatens the terrorists more than the act of individuals voting.
Greg Sermon, Perth, Western Australia
Maybe these particular elections will not be the most successful but it is a start towards the long road to democracy. God bless the Iraqi people this day for their bravery and determination. The whole world should be behind them and more help should now be given to crush the troublemakers.
Voting means participating and colluding in an American farce. It gives the false sheen of respectability to their violent actions.
For all those detractors, pessimists and the so-called Iraq and Middle East experts, the elections in Iraq will be a success and a first step towards democracy no matter how flawed the process maybe. The alternatives are either the return of the Saddamists or a Taleban style of government, both of which are undesirable. The time for dynasties must go and be replaced by civil society. I wish the best for all Iraqis - Shias and Sunnis, Arabs and Kurds, Muslims and Christians and encourage each and everyone to defy fate and go out and vote. I certainly will be doing just that.
Ghassan Hillawi, Toronto, Canada
It will not be a success because it will not stop the killing, whatever the outcome.
Terry, Epsom, England
Thanks again for the excellent coverage on the upcoming Iraqi elections. Again I can rely on you as I did in my days in Liberia. Now as a US soldier in Iraq, your perspective is unquestioned and a lot of the questions I had about these elections were answered on your website, which I shared with fellow soldiers. We don't have regular contact with many local nationals but as the current status quo goes, hopefully in the near future, the elections would have proven a point.
Jehu J. Duncan
I believe that the elections will prove an acceptable success as far as the governments involved in its regulation are concerned. As for a success for the Iraqi people, the answer is no. This is an election which will determine the foundation of their nation and the people don't even know who they're voting for.
Aaron Boyd, West Bend, USA
There will be violence for some time but the election will go on as planned. When it is over the terrorists will realise that their efforts did not deter the majority of the Iraqi people from exercising their right to vote.
As in Afghanistan, it will be interesting as to what ties the Bush family has to the so-called "voted in" Iraqis government.
Elections or democracy is just a bitter joke with the Iraqi people. They have no water, electricity, oil or other essential items. Nobody knows how many people have been killed so far and will be killed in the coming months. This is the democracy for which Bush and the American administration are fighting for. Would Americans like this to happen in their own country?
M. Yousaf Anwar, Sheffield, UK
Your readers and commentators talk about democracy and elections, few seem to know and understand the mentality, culture and history of the Middle Eastern people. Readers write about "democracy and elections" as a way of life in the Middle East ignoring or forgetting the facts that no Middle Eastern country practises democracy or elections as we understand it. Considering the historical and cultural background in the Middle East, your readers do not appreciate the facts on the ground that democracy and elections will never work in the Middle East, it does not exist in any Arab country, so why we expect it to work in Iraq?
John Marina, Montreal, Canada
When neither the provisional government nor the occupational forces have managed to establish control over the whole the country, when millions of potential voters like the Sunnis have decided not to take part in the elections because they feel that the system is inherently prejudiced against them, when the potential voters are subjected to innumerable restrictions of movement, and finally when transparency and international supervision, are so blatantly absent, the upcoming election in Iraq will defy even the simplest norms of legality, legitimacy, fairness and representation. In short it will make a mockery of the democratic process.
Duygu Bazoglu Sezer, Ankara, Turkey
It will be a success for the US - their curfew and their army have effectively banned enough people that they have ensured that their puppet government will win. However - it won't be democracy, but then, that's not what Bush wants, is it?
Karl, London, England
Should we let the terrorist win & make Iraq worse than the Saddam (sad) era? Do we really want the "cut-throat-man" to rule our country? Or do we want educated people to rule us! Please vote so we can finish this illness in our Iraq.
Adel, Baghdad, Iraq
Iraq strikes me as a post Ottoman creation by not particularly well versed outside powers - in this case, the British - which carved out a nation from the area without really extrapolating the consequences. Much like what happened in post colonial Africa when vast tracts containing more than one nationality in them were cast adrift as independent states. As a result, any democratic election will lead to the most populous group gaining power and hanging on to it and at the exclusion of the minorities who will end up seriously marginalised.
Face it people, however well intentioned the exercise, without the necessary mind-set, the reality is that we are going to do damage to the hopes of all true believers for more democratic governance in the middle-east by hosting this election in such a volatile country. Alas, it seems very unlikely that a repeat of the success in Afghanistan will be achieved. I may be wrong but I doubt it.
Elias Lostrom, Dionysos, Greece
Why should any ordinary Iraqi consider death as an option because Bush says so? What he is talking about here is democracy at any cost. I suggest he sends a close family member to go and "defy the terrorists" as a token of solidarity.
Wim, Crosby, Isle of Man
Democracy is not always the answer especially given the way it is perverted all over the world including the US. Having elections just to say you had them, especially when so many people's lives are at risk is fanatical. It is even worse when you are responsible for security and refuse to do what it takes to protect the voters. I think when Iraqis were ready to die for regime change they would have gotten rid of Saddam themselves with a lot less loss of life. I think the Bush policy of playing one group off against the other will backfire. If the Shias had really wanted a united Iraq they would have told Bush no elections until there is security and US troops leave. This election will promote a long insurgency and increase the possibility of Iraq breaking up.
Rey, Spartanburg, SC USA
I just wish those people who claim to know Iraq to leave Iraq to the Iraqis. I talked to my friend and family in Iraq and all very excited to take part in the first step to democratic Iraq. I am surprised to hear that Hizbul Tahrir in the UK are organising a protest in front of the London and Manchester polling stations. Can any one tell me what on earth they protesting against, or do they are just want Saddam back.
Jafar Albadran, London
Let us all hope and pray for successful elections in Iraq. Whether we disagreed with the decision to invade Iraq or not, I believe that at this point in time, common sense and humanity demands that we all throw our weight behind the democratic process in Iraq. Freedom will always prevail.
Pacharo Kayira, Lilongwe, Malawi
Who cares, Bush and Blair will declare it a resounding success.
Stuart, Norwich, UK
What I don't understand is why should Iraqi's living in the UK or US etc get to vote in the Iraq elections? Does that mean they cannot vote in the forthcoming British elections? Or is this just a ploy to boost the voters numbers so the British and American governments can crow a little louder?
Derek Blow, Newark UK
Democracy by its very nature has to be chosen rather than imposed at the barrel of a gun. In the interests of democracy and freedom these elections must fail, the US led occupation must be seen as what it is as imperialism, and forced to leave. Only then can any elections be valid as there will not be an overriding US influence at the polls and no army with guns ensuring each voter knows who to vote for!
Josh Irving, Bristol
I hope it is but there is a lot of worry about attacks and such that it may fall apart. I just hope it is legitimate and that a civil war doesn't start because of it.
In a truly free democracy, then the Iraqi people would be free to vote for anybody they wish to, even Saddam Hussein. To deny them this is to say that they can only vote for who we wish them to vote for.
Dave, Ramsgate, England
We, the public, have been bombarded with consistently negative coverage by the 'doom and gloom merchants' in the media (and elsewhere). As usual, those that opposed military action have no credible alternative policy (apart from give up and go home). Now that we are on the eve of what will prove to be successful democratic elections in Iraq, the majority will be given a say in the running of their own country, and despite continuing violence, the Anti war lobby etc have been proved wrong.
Jerry Mcloughlin, London, England
I see a lot of comments and accusations towards the US here and no real appreciation for democracy. While I personally did not support this war, I do agree the Iraqis make their own decisions as to who will lead them into the future. Will it be someone who seriously has everyone's best interests at heart or will be another dictator who will just continue Saddam's status quo? If the people who oppose this election on the grounds that they want the US out then why don't they simply beat Bush at his own game?
How? Simple, put your own electoral candidates up for election so that you can then ask the US to leave for good if that is truly what the majority in Iraq wants. The fact that they are too cowardly to do so and are boycotting and sabotaging the elections shows they are afraid of the truth which is that the real Iraqi people want change and do not want to pursue the fundamentalists' agenda.
Katherine, Toronto, Canada
People should stop going on about democracy as if it makes you a free person and will sort out the world's problems. In this country you have a choice of three people to run our government. In America it's two. I am not a member of any party so cannot choose who I want to run my government. So who chooses the candidates? Big businesses paying for the parties choose. I have to pick from the list of other peoples selections and be thankful. The Iraqis will go out and put a tick in a box and go home like all the rest of us. I just hope the voting is fair and we don't force the people we want on to the Iraqi people.
Paul, Plymouth, UK
Regardless of which party wins the elections in Iraq the same policies will be implemented (much similar to any other country) - the infrastructure of the country will be privatised in the hands of US and multi-national companies, working class self determination will be legislated against and backed up by the police and army (much similar to under Hussein), the self determination of the Iraqi people as a whole will be ignored and the companies re-building Iraq will make a lot of profit. If we are to be optimistic about the outcome of this organised tragedy then we must look to the people of Iraq to organise their own futures, not some CIA puppet or band of religious fundamentalists.
The only hope is that the Iraqi working classes can undermine the occupying forces, ex-Baathists and Allawi's government in an attempt to implement true freedom, by which I mean freedom of expression, association and freedom from all forms of tyranny. We could help by implementing a form of true democracy in this country as opposed to the facade that currently passes as such.
Pat D, Birmingham
Premature elections provide a false sense of hope to the American public and Iraqis citizens. This precipitous action is a PR move to save-face for a disastrous occupation and a tarnished Bush administration. It is also designed to install a puppet regime friendly to the US interests. It has no legitimacy at this stage of the conflict.
Michel Casselman, Ottawa, Canada
I am fortunate to live in country where we take democracy for granted - I hope the people of Iraq and the Middle East will one day enjoy the same benefits. Even if the elections are far from perfect they are a start on the road to rule by the common people for all the people - the start of democracy.
Don Mills, Sydney, Australia
I think the issue here is not whether the election is going to succeed or not but whether democracy will be deepened. I believe democracy will be the winner. Even if turn out is low the Iraqis will end up choosing somebody they want and I think that is most imperative. The elected leader then has the responsibility of curbing the violence and organising more peaceful and successive elections.
Faisal Alhassan Baba, Accra, Ghana
I hope that this flawed election is the starting point for a genuine dialogue between pro-occupation and anti-occupation Iraqis. The winner should not assume they speak for all Iraqis. Iraqis must not allow foreigners, be they the occupation forces or the foreign Islamists, to determine their future.
John P, Birmingham, UK
Although the elections are absurd, it is the first step towards ending the neo-colonialist occupation. However, with Bush's promise of maintaining troop levels for several years, the future appears bleak.
Christian, Ann Abor, USA
Whatever the outcome of this election, Blair, Bush et al will hail it as a resounding success simply because they have to in order to justify the continued occupation. Sadly it is almost irrelevant whether the election is a success for the Iraqi people who are taking second place to the imperial ambitions of others.
Trevor, Cambs, UK
Today, the US lost 38 troops in Iraq. Since the beginning of the Iraqi war, members of the coalition, civilians working in Iraq, Iraqi nationals and others on the ground have been killed or injured. Apparently no price in human lives is too high to pay for the conduct of these elections. I don't believe there should be any absentee ballots for Iraqi expatriates. Our people are getting killed so the expatriates can dance in the streets of Los Angeles with a flag draped across their shoulders. Freedom isn't free, so go home and fight for yours.
Barbara, Austin USA
Regardless of the fact that people are ready or not for the vote, it makes no difference because the US will decide the winner. Make no mistake, this election has already been won.
Eric, Texas - USA
The terrorists today are not fighting the coalition forces, they are fighting against the yet to be born Iraqi democracy. They are fighting against what democracy stands for, freedom and equality. They are fighting against the will of the majority of the Iraqi people. They the terrorist will lose, as history has shown us again and again.
Enrique Ortiz, Monterrey, Mexico
Absolutely not. The majority of Iraqi citizens fear for their lives. How can an election be considered valid if only a slim minority of the population feels safe enough to participate?
Melissa Johnson, Montpelier, Vermont, USA
I think that any remotely democratic elections would be close to impossible in the current state of Iraq. The nation is divided and balancing on a cloud of uncertainty, continuous terrorism, threats and danger. On top of that the election is viewed by many Muslims as an imposition by a Western power along with its values and ideals. The election will happen because it has to: both in order to restore some basic 'peace' in Iraq and more importantly in the interest of Mr Bush's foreign policy. There will probably be enough votes because people will feel either forced or obliged to vote. However the true preferences will not be revealed and I doubt that the Iraqi people themselves had enough time to think about the future of their country with on-going tragic events.
Nadia Kozyreva, Chile
These "elections" are nothing but fraud designed to impose a government of Judeo-Christian liking on Iraqi Muslims that they will never accept.
Ahmad Farooq, Islamabad and Pakistan
Everyone talks about what the elections will bring to the Iraqi people. Voting means different things for different societies. Has anyone asked Iraqis what they are voting for? How will voting empower women in Iraq? Will voting for freedom get things done? For a society that had very little "voting" power in the past, it is important that they "vote for a structure" more than just "voting for freedom" and that entails respect. The important thing is how the officials (elected or appointed) obtain that respect. We focus too much on freedom and not enough on respect.
Calvin, NY, USA
It is funny how all the non-Iraqis in this forum think that they understand the problem and know the solution! The problem will not be solved by the withdrawal of foreign troops nor by postponing the elections. The importance of the elections is far from who is going to win and who is not; it is the first step towards democracy and if it fails, it means terrorism has won in Iraq.
Voting means voting against violence, it means voting against terrorism and it means voting for free and democratic Iraq. Whether the process is fair or not, whether a vote will count for a party or not; all votes will count for peace and democracy. If you want to stand up to violence then you must vote. If it's not going to work this time, it will not work in 10 years time!
Ahmad Mousawi, London, UK (Iraqi)
The post by Ahmad Mousawi, London, an Iraqi, is the most sensible post I have ever read on this site and he is correct. The election must go ahead. They won't be perfect, but what elections ever are? Also, people should stop believing that Iraq is in near state of anarchy. Yes, there are many problems in the country, but mainly based in the centre of the country. 14 out of the 18 provinces in Iraq are relatively peaceful and stable. Does that count as near total anarchy?
Michael, St Helens, UK
Iraq is in a state of near anarchy with deadly daily reverberations of violence and mayhem. Shouldn't elections be postponed till a climate of peace and reconciliation has been established and the root causes identified? The United Nations should play a greater role for the whole process to be credible. An exit strategy for the United States from Iraq should be mooted without delay.
Pancha Chandra, Brussels, Belgium
So long there is enough coalition soldiers to guard polling stations, the elections in Iraq will indeed be a success. If Iraq is to be perceived by the international community as a newly democratic state, it will be because all the willing eligible voters are not prevented in any way from casting their votes out on January 30. The now interim Iraqi government must never be intimidated by terrorists. What is needed is that the government must assure all the Iraqi voters that they will not be subjected to terror attacks during the election process. This is because the election cannot be declared to be free and fair if some eligible voters still feel intimidated.
Herman Mabasa, Johannesburg, South Africa
This Election is a fraud. How can people vote if the party-political agendas are not known, never mind the candidates? How can the election be called fair with only 128 international observers? How can people call it a election, when even the Iraqi government doesn't know how and where the votes will be counted. It's five days before Election, and nothing makes sense.
Firstly, can I just thank Jeff in Iraq (below) for his perfect analysis of the situation. He's right in saying al-Zarqawi is not going to change his mind about democracy or even the Shia. Elections must take place NOW. Iraq is ready for elections, the Shia, Kurds, Christians and Turkmen are ready for the vote. The Sunnis are hesitating for fear of Shia domination at the polls. They should learn from the mistakes of the past. The Shia boycotted the elections in 1920 after the defeat of the British, and lost control for 80 years. PLEASE - all eligible Iraqis must vote. I am Iraqi and I am confident that Iraq will live in peace, unity and democracy. However, it will take time.
Hussein, Birmingham, UK
Democracies in S Korea and Japan were created under the control of the USA. Our own General was a large part of drafting the Japanese constitution that remains today. Are you all going to tell me that those countries have failed at democracy, just as you predict Iraq will?
Joshua Splinter, USA
Iraq is no longer a sovereign country. The occupiers have to leave and let people manage the chaos and bring their own order through whatever form of government they like to choose. India got a robust democracy after the chaos of partition once the British left. It defies logic to see the US desperately justifying its aggression and pushing its brand of democracy with puppet governments in Iraq while it never makes even a verbal protest every other time Pakistan slips into a military regime. This charade harms the genuineness of American people who stand to be ridiculed by honest thinking people.
Hiren Desai, Baroda, India
By voting, Iraqis legitimize the American crimes and occupation.
Nasser Alkahtani, Saudi Arabia
After nearly 600 years as a colony, of first Persia, then Turkey and finally England, who set up a puppet king who was eventually publicly executed, followed by 40 years of dictatorship, maybe it's time Iraq had an election.
William Stonehill, Tokyo, Japan
Unfortunately, the elections are flawed from the beginning, as they were not fought for with the passion of other countries. The recent events from Ukraine has shown us the way to overturn a leader is to support the people in a country in forming an uprising, not bomb the country to smithereens. Iraq is not ready for a democracy and we should not be forcing one upon it because in the long term, the democracy will fail, hopefully with a peaceful Iraqi lead coup but more than likely with another Saddam Hussein rising to the top.
Iraq is not ready for a democracy and we should not be forcing one upon it
Christopher Johnston, Belfast
Christopher Johnston, Belfast
In my opinion, the Iraqi election tomorrow will not succeed because of violence and mismanagement from the US.
Mohamed Osman, Mogadishu/Somalia
It will not be a success because the Americans have already decided who will be ruling Iraq, someone who will do what suites them. A puppet as in Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Egypt, and the rest.
Yes, it will be a success! Why not? Aren't we human just like anyone in the West? Or is it because we are Iraqis that people doubt our ability to practice democracy. What amazes me is that many so-called intellectuals, liberals, use years of cultural oppression and deprivation from self-thinking by the Saddam regime as a justification for the eminent failure of democracy in Iraq. Yes, we have had 35 years of built-in political ignorance and destruction of our civil institutions, but did we give up? Never! We campaigned, lobbied and allied ourselves with a super power to get rid of dictatorship for the sake of democracy! Isn't this in itself a success? Our success has started long time ago, and there is no one who can stop it! Try to put the chains back on a freed slave again! He will fight like hell!
Suhaib Ahmed, Kirkuk-Iraqi (Living in the UK)
Democracy is the way to go but can it justify achieving 'democracy by force'. Till people come out voluntarily, without fear of repression for voting or vote under the shadow of the 'gun'. Then we can we claim victory for democracy - or it is just an exercise in futility creating more problems than solutions?
Vivek Seth, Dubi, UAE
Forced democracy is contradictory in its own right. What's the difference between Bush, Blair and Saddam Hussein? None - they are all murderers in their own right for their own causes and political agendas.
d Millar, Edinburgh
It has to be a success, it is their only hope. The terrorist organisation must not be allowed to prevent it. Good luck to the public there. All our efforts to bring democracy to Iraq must not be wasted at the eleventh hour.
Ray Williams, Hassocks, UK
Bush advises Iraqis to defy the terrorists and vote. Will Bush be ready to send his daughter or himself visit Iraq at this time of electioneering? He won't. His life and his daughter's life are more precious than the lives of the poor Iraqis. Whatever be the result of this election, it will be the puppets of present US Administration that will be ruling Iraq, and this will continue till the oil resources in Iraq dries up.
K S Balachandran, Chennai - India
At last! We have Ahmad Mousawi, London, UK (Iraqi) who knows what's going on. Not like these non-Iraqi experts with their 'I'm right and everyone else is wrong' opinions.
I don't think that this so-called election is going to help Iraqis in any way. We are grown-ups, let us be realistic. The only way that there will be peace in Iraq is for them to get their country back. No other way .
Mohamed Ahmed, Somalia
Democracy(the will of the people) is facing a great challenge by cowards using threats. I hope the elections are a success but I do not think it is believable as yet. I pray that good wins, this is not a religious choice as we all pray to the same god whatever we call him.
Tim McMahon, Pennar/Wales
Despite the good intentions these elections are absurd. The Americans imposing democracy is like instructing your neighbour on how to bake an apple pie according to her own secret recipe. This is not a people discovering by themselves on how to conduct their own affairs, but an ethnocentric Manifest Destiny being forced upon them.
Steve Belgraver, Koog a/d Zaan, The Netherlands
The Iraqi poll will never succeed whilst the country remains under an occupying force. Had the British and Americans agreed and exit strategy and a complete withdrawal of forces prior to the poll, the Iraqi people would be more receptive to a democratic process. Right now there is mistrust and hatred. Irrespective of who comes to power, they will just be seen as puppets for President Bush and Prime Minister Blair. Simply put, we should get the hell out of there and let the Iraqi people manage their own affairs.
Steve Smith, Cambridge