Iraqis voted on Sunday in a general election many said they would boycott, having lost faith in the democratic system brought in by the U.S. invasion of 2003.

The election is being held several months early under a new law designed to help independent candidates — a response to mass anti-government protests two years ago. But the established, armed and Shiite Islamist-dominated ruling elite is expected to sweep the vote.

At least 167 parties and more than 3,200 candidates are competing for Iraq’s 329 seats in parliament, according to the country’s election commission.

Iraqi elections are often followed by months of protracted negotiations over a president, a prime minister and a Cabinet.

Polls opened at 7 a.m. (0400 GMT) and will close at 6 p.m. (1500 GMT). Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi headed to cast his ballot as soon as the voting started, state TV reported.





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