For a while, the run-up to the 2010 general elections in Iraq appeared to be déjà vu all over again. The National Dialogue Front (NDF), a key Sunni political party, had decided to pull out of the election to protest the disqualification of hundreds of candidates—most notably their leader, Salah al-Mutlaq—for alleged ties to the banned Ba’th Party. At the last minute, the NDF walked back from the brink and decided to participate, hopefully signaling a growing understanding that election boycotts rarely succeed. The Iraqi Sunnis know this better than most, having learned this lesson the hard way just five years ago.
The Sunni community’s decision not to participate in the historic elections of January 2005 is now viewed as one of the great strategic blunders of the post- Saddam era. Claiming anti-Sunni bias from both the Shia parties and the Coalition Provisional Authority, and declaring that legitimate elections could not take place under occupation, major Sunni groups such as the Association of Muslim Scholars, the Iraqi Islamic Party, and the Iraqi Federation of Tribes decided to boycott the election. These groups initially tried to use the threat of a boycott to secure concessions, such as the elimination of a single-constituency structure for the voting that would benefit Shia or the establishment of a timetable for United States withdrawal, but none of these came to fruition.
President-elect Bolsonaro has embraced tough-on-crime measures that egregiously violate basic human rights and eviscerate the rule of law. Responding to Brazil’s 63,880 homicides in 2017, Bolsonaro calls for increasing protection for police officers who kill alleged criminals and arming citizens. He calls for further militarizing urban policing, reducing the age of criminal liability from 18 to 16, reinstating the death penalty, authorizing torture in interrogations and imprisoning more people... Brazil’s police are already notorious for being one of the world’s deadliest in the use of force. In many favelas, Brazil’s retired and current police officers operate illegal militias that extort and control local communities, murdering those who oppose them and engaging in warfare with Brazil’s highly-violent gangs and in social cleansing. Bolsonaro is simply threatening to turn the rest of the police into state-sanctioned thugs.