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Teachers: Citizenship: Government Forms

Last Updated: Monday December 19 2005 10:56 GMT

Iraqi elections

Citizenship 11-14/KS3/Levels E&F
Forms of government

Overview

Iraqis cast their votes
More than 70% of Iraqi voters may have taken part in December's parliamentary election, Iraqi electoral officials have said.

First estimates show that between 10 and 11 million Iraqis cast their ballot.

Students look at the importance of fair voting conditions and the features of a democracy.

Learning aims

  • What democracy means
  • How we ensure elections are fair

    Icebreaker

    Read out this story about elections in Iraq.

    Ask students:

  • What were the Iraqi people voting for? A permanent government
  • Why is voting in an election a big thing for Iraqis? Because under Saddam Hussein there were no free elections.
  • Why was security so tight at the polling stations? Because it was feared that bomb attacks might be used to try and disrupt the elections.
  • Why did some Iraqi people want the elections to be a failure? Because they are opposed to American and British involvement in Iraq.

    Warm up

    What is democracy?

    Ask students:

  • Can anyone call themselves a president?
  • Why do we have elections?
  • Would a leader be treated differently if they have been elected fairly?

    Read students the following definition:

    Democratic society: A form of government where the people share in deciding how things are run.

    Read out the following descriptions. After each description use a show of hands to vote on whether or not it describes a democracy. [ * = features of a healthy democracy]

  • Free and fair elections*.
  • People in charge are beyond the law.
  • Ordinary people feel powerless.
  • People can change things*.
  • The majority (most people) get their way*.
  • Only a small group of people get their way.
  • The leader can declare war on anyone he wants.
  • You get a chance to change the leader*.
  • It normally takes violence to change the leader.

    Main activity

    Fairness at elections

    To keep elections fair, special observers called monitors are often used. They watch what is happening to make sure that the rules are being followed. The Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq used more than 70,000 observers for the December elections, as well as more than 150,000 people from the various political parties who were standing.

    Fairness at the polling station

    Draw a plan of an acceptable polling booth. It is for use in poor and rich countries so must be cheap. The polling station should offer:

  • Secrecy for the voter.
  • A box that is tamper proof so the votes are safe.
  • A way to stop people from voting twice.
  • A way of checking that the voter is who they say they are.
  • A system that is fast and easy to use.
  • A way to stop one side's supporters trying to scare the others out of voting.

    Counting the votes fairly

    Students make a list of what sort of people should be checking up on the vote and write a set of rules they must follow. Prompts: work in pairs, work in plain view, double check etc.

    Extension activity

    Write a letter to a local paper or produce a poster explaining to 18-year-olds why they should bother to vote.

    Plenary

    In the last British general election, for every ten people who could vote only six bothered.

    Ask students: Should the law be changed to make voting compulsory (as in Australia)?

    For hundreds more news-based lessons, click on Teachers on the left hand side of this page.



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