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Iraq: The January 30th National Elections PDF Print E-mail
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Thursday, 27 January 2005 10:51
Everything in the current Iraqi situation is dictating that the elections scheduled for next Sunday should have been postponed for at least few months.  The most important reason is that the security situation in the country is still very serious, uncontrolled and is extremely dangerous, but the Americans are insisting on going ahead with it in spite of an appeal by a very important group of moderate very sensible political organizations and personalities the appeal was rejected and the exercise is going to take place on the said date.  I will be trying to make some predictions which are based on my own understanding of the composition and the relative strength of the various components of the current Iraqi political spectrum.

The elections are going to be conducted on the basis of what is called a list. A list contains one or more names of men or women, there are three kinds of lists.  The first is the one which has been given by one political party or a group of parties.  The second are political groupings is less organized than a classical party.  The third list represent individuals.  The main lists are twenty and the most important ones amongst them are the one which is supported by the Grand Ayatollah Sistani which is made up of seven parties, the second is the Kurdish list which is made up by the two main Kurdish parties and their Christian allies who live in northern Iraq, the third is the Communist's party, the fourth belongs to the current Prime Minister Dr. Alawi, the fifth is that of the Turkmans who are mainly residing in Kirkuk.  The whole country is regarded as one election unit and the degree of success of a list will depend on their percentage of the number of ballots which have been cast.

The process is intended to elect 275 members to what will be called the Iraqi National Assembly plus the election of local councils to the various Iraqi provinces, on the same days the Kurds will be electing their own parliament. The National Assembly will be empowered to draft a constitution which will be presented to the people sometime next August for approval. The assembly will also elect a President and two Vice-Presidents who will appoint a prime minister who will assemble a cabinet which he should present to the assembly for approval. The assembly will serve until the end of the year were it is hoped that the draft of the constitution have been approved when there will be another election for another assembly which will have the duties allotted to it under the new constitution.  One very important duty is to select a Prime Minister again who is going to serve now for four years.

I am going to attempt some predictions about the process itself and the results which will come at the end of it, but I would like to emphasize that all of these predictions and scenarios I am suggesting are based on my own understanding of the country and the diverse political and religious groups which are involved.  There are very important variables in the calculations that I would be very happy if I would end up with a 10% margin of error.  There are two extremely important variables, the first is number of the people who are going to abstain as result of the intimidation and by the threats of those who oppose the process.  The other very important imponderable is the number of Iraqis and their political affiliations who are residing outside the country in the 36 cities in the 14 foreign countries were they are living now.  The others especially those in what is usually known as the Sunni triangle who are going to boycott the elections their voices will go to the others, because the whole country as result of the list system which is used is just one voting center you can vote in a place in the south to someone who is living in the most northern part of the country.  For all these reasons, I would be very happy as I have just stated if I would end up with only a 10% margin of error.

In the South which is Shiite dominated it is going to be also very smooth and trouble free except for the big cities like Karballa, Najaf, Basra and Hilla were their might be some serious trouble, but in the end the Shiite will end the day by gaining something like 40% of the votes.  The second will be the Kurdish list with about 16%, the third and fourth places will be a toss up between the parties of the current Prime Minister Dr. Alawi and the Communists who are running neck and neck, and who I think will gather in between them about 30% of the registered votes, the fifth will be the Turkmen's of Kirkuk with about 4%.  The remaining 10% of the cast ballots will be distributed amongst smaller political groupings possibly few independents.  Every one percentage point will give three members in the elected body.

In the end I don't think that all this extravaganza will not change things a very great deal, in fact I am worried that with the practical elimination of the Sunnis from the political process things might get even more polarized than they are at the present time.  I very strongly believe that at the end of the process, the Prime Minister's job will go again to Dr. Alawi who will preside over a cabinet which will reflect the relative strengths of the various factions in the new assembly it will be a coalition government with some technocrats which will be having a little more authority especially as regards the services and the less important political decision but the real power will still remain in the hands of the Americans.

Dr. Najeeb Hanoudi
Baghdad, 27, Jan, 2005
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