They May As Well Have Voted In May

They may as Well have Voted in May

Hamza Hendawi draws aside the strange curtain that had fallen over election preparations in Iraq.

Ash-Sharq al-Awsat also reports on the issue, saying the the registration of voters and parties will begin on November 1 and last until December 15. Some 12 million voters will be eligible to take part in elections for a 275-seat parliament.

Parties must register between Nov. 1 and Nov. 30, and must pay a $5,000 registration fee. Their top officers may not be high-ranking former Baathists. They must submit national party tickets with at least 12 candidates and at most 275. One-third must be women (last I knew it was one fourth, but maybe Raja’ al-Khuza’i has won a round recently).

Cole: The tickets are arranged so that every third name is a woman. Seats will be apportioned according to the proportion of the vote the party achieves. As I understand it, if 10% of Iraqis vote for the al-Da`wa Party, it would get roughly 27 seats, so that the top 27 persons listed on its ticket would serve. 8 of them would be women. I fear that this system penalizes independents and members of small local parties, probably fatally. For this reason, parties are trying to form larger coalitions, which have a better chance of garnering a significant percentage of votes.

Hendawi reveals that Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani’s plan of using the old United Nations food rolls has been revised, but that there will be a voter registration process that hopes to double-check the rolls. The ration rolls had been criticized by US proconsul Paul Bremer, who refused to allow elections to be held in May, 2004, as Sistani had proposedl, on the grounds that voter registration could not be accomplished in that time frame. In fact, Bremer and the Bush administration were terrified that elections would bring radical Shiites and Sunni fundamentalists to power.

The real reason elections were postponed was so that they would not embarrass Bush by their results. As it is, the US election will be decided before we can see the shape of the Iraqi parliament, which may not be to Bush’s liking. In the meantime, US military might has been used in an attempt to break the power of the Sadr movement in the south, as well as to break the grip of Sunni fundamentalists and ex-Baathists on the north-central provinces. It remains to be see if military tactics actually produced the desired result.

If elections had been held in May, 2004, they might have forestalled a good deal of the violence we have seen since April 1.