Shaping the Iraqi Electorate
The election now envisaged by the Americans in Iraq this spring will not be a democratic, one person one vote, affair. The electorate itself will be town notables hand-picked by the US and the US-appointed Interim Governing Council. But how?
An independent Shiite member of the Interim Governing Council, Ahmad Shiya` al-Barak, has been worrying about all this. He is described by the CPA as “General Coordinator for the Human Rights Association of Babel; Graduate of the Law Faculty, Babel University. Graduate of the College Management and Economy, Baghdad University. One of the tribal leaders of Al Bu Sultan tribe in Babel.”
Al-Barak told al-Hayat that before elections can be held, the municipal and provincial councils have to be reformed. He pointed out that some municipal councils double as provincial ones (i.e. they have authority over the capital as well as the whole province). They differ in how they were chosen, differ with regard to how many members they have, and there is no standard set of regulations specifying their functions.
Al-Barak has clearly started worrying that this hodgepodge of “councils,” many of them American-appointed, will make the local decisions about who will get to vote for the transitional national government due to be elected in June. If the councils are essentially the election commissions, they could be crucial in shaping the electorate and the outcome of the polls. Therefore, their nature is the key to the elections. He wants “vast reforms” in these councils before the elections.
Since he is an independent Shiite, I take his concern to reflect anxieties about the election being rigged, perhaps in favor the of powerful expatriates on the IGC.