Iraqis started voting on Saturday in the first parliamentary election since defeating Islamic State, state television reported. More than 7,000 candidates in 18 provinces, or governorates, are running this year for 329 parliamentary seats.
Iraq has been struggling to find a formula for stability since a U.S.-led invasion toppled dictator Saddam Hussein in 2003, and politics has brought only disappointment to most Iraqis.
The three main ethnic and religious groups — the majority Shi’ite Arabs and the Sunni Arabs and Kurds — have been at odds for decades, and the sectarian divisions remain as deep as ever.
Much of the northern city of Mosul was reduced to rubble in fighting to oust Islamic State, and it will require billions of dollars to rebuild. The economy is stagnant. Sectarian tensions, which erupted into 2006-2007, are still a major security threat. And Iraq’s two main backers, Washington and Tehran, are at loggerheads.