With Iraq’s parliamentary election fast approaching, the candidates are vying for voters' affections by showering them with gifts. One candidate recently handed out frozen chickens in a poor village near Baquba. Another in Babil Province doled out sports equipment and running shoes from China. Voters have also scored phone cards, toys, and blankets. Iraqi politics are extremely local, the New York Times explains, and gifts are par for the course.
No laws restrict campaign fundraising or spending, giving rise to a system David Petraeus once dubbed “Iraqracy.” Instead of rallies, candidates hold feasts, a practice so common that the price of sheep is up almost 27%. One candidate leaving a feast said he’d probably vote for the host. “But if someone else gives me something better, I will vote for him. Because after they win the elections, we will never see them or get anything from them.”