Meanwhile in Iraq

Crucial Elections Saturday

Iraq's last elections, in 2005, were hailed as a major achievement, but proved to be a precursor to civil war as many Sunni Arabs boycotted the polls, leading to skewed results and further sectarian divisions. This time around, Iraqis are hoping that Saturday's provincial elections will be more representative and lay the foundation for a stable government that can facilitate an American withdrawal. Some 14,400 candidates representing 407 parties are running for 440 seats and the campaigns have been more competitive this time around—partly because candidates enjoy enough security to campaign in public, a luxury few had the last time around. The dangers have not passed entirely, however, and five candidates were recently assassinated in a 24-hour period.