Hopefully the trend continues and Iraq succeeds. I'm hoping for it.
Still, thousands of women, including many in conservative tribal areas, cast ballots, many for the first time. Voters brought their families to participate in only the second elections since the fall of President Saddam Hussein and by far the most open and competitive. More than 14,000 candidates contested for 440 seats to lead influential local councils, the equivalent of state legislatures in the United States.
"I am so happy," Raad al-Shimari, 30, declared in the Kadhamiyah neighborhood of Baghdad, flashing a forefinger stained with purple ink indicating he had just voted. "I chose the person that will represent me."
After the polls closed Saturday evening, U.N. and Iraqi officials declared the elections -- one of the most heavily monitored by independent observers in recent Middle Eastern history -- as transparent and credible. "This is a good day for Iraq's democracy," said Staffan de Mistura, the top U.N. official in Iraq.