IRI Iraq Poll Shows Concerns Over Corruption, Deep Distrust of Political Establishment, Openness to New and Independent Candidates


Baghdad, Iraq – A nationwide poll in Iraq by the International Republican Institute’s (IRI) Center for Insights in Survey Research underlined concerns over corruption and a deep distrust of established political parties. At the same time, Iraqis expressed an openness for new and independent candidates running for office.

When asked to name the first or second most important problem facing the country, 46% of Iraqis chose corruption. Seventy-four percent of Iraqis labeled political parties as an institution they “somewhat distrust” or “distrust a great deal”.

“Many Iraqis see the issue of corruption as a reason to question the government’s ability to put the interests of citizens first,” said Patricia Karam, Middle East and North Africa Regional Director for IRI. “Iraqis feel that established political parties and their leadership are part of an entrenched, patronage-based kleptocratic system that has benefited a narrow, ruling elite.” Many Iraqis remain disillusioned, as a result, in the electoral options that are available to them.

Nonetheless, favorability for new and independent candidates running for office reflected some grounds for optimism. When asked about the most important factor for determining who they will vote for in the elections, 30% of those intending to vote cited a candidate’s independence. Forty-nine percent of respondents claimed they were “more likely” to support a candidate who has never held office, while only 20% said they were “less likely” to vote for such a candidate.

“Although Iraqis have registered their enduring dissatisfaction with the status quo and distrust in the system, its patrons, and beneficiaries, they are keen to support new faces,” said Karam. “A number of nascent parties and candidates emerging from the protests did surprisingly well in the elections, winning seats in parliament. If Iraqis want to effect change, they need to continue to engage in the democratic process.”


The survey was conducted on behalf of the International Republican Institute’s Center for Insights for Survey Research by SREO Consulting Ltd. (SREO). Data collection was conducted July 8 – 29, 2021, through computer-assisted personal interviewing (CAPI) administered face-to-face interviews at respondents’ homes.​ The national sample consisted of n=5,000 Iraqi citizens, aged 18 and over. The sample excludes individuals residing in IDP camps.​ The data was weighted towards age and gender estimates from the 2018 MICS study.​ The response rate was 64%. The margin of error for the mid-range of the full sample is ±1.7 points at the 95% confidence level. 

View the report here.

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