More On Interim Constitution Roger

More on Interim Constitution

Roger Myerson, a professor of economics at the University of Chicago, shared with me the following on the Interim Constitution, and has kindly consented to my reprinting it here:

“Article 55 . . .may be a key to the evolution of power in Iraq. This article

specifies that any group that has taken control of a Governate Council

before 1 July 2004 under the CPA can retain control “until free, direct,

and full elections, conducted pursuant to the law, are held.” There is no

indication of when such Governate elections may occur. In particular,

these Governate elections are not linked to the National Assembly

elections, nor is it clear whether the National Assembly has the power to

call Governate elections (since “no member of any region government,

governor, member of any governate… may be dismissed by the federal

government”). As I read it, the suggestion is that local elections may not

be generally required until a final constitution is approved. Article 56

also promises that these Governate councils will get a significant role in

administering the country.

“So if an aspiring national leader can develop a factional network that has

widespread control of Governate councils (established without elections

under the CPA), then that leader may be able to control local elections to

the National Assembly in these Governates and may dominate the national

political process thereafter.

“I have written essays and professional articles [2, 3, below] arguing that, to

promote democracy in occupied Iraq, local elections should have been held

first and then local councils should have be given leading roles in the

constitution of the provisional government. But if local elections are

indefinitely postponed, then the establishment of a system of autonomous

and unelected Governate leaders could instead seriously jeopardize the

development of democracy in Iraq. Many people may be thinking only of

Kurdish concerns for autonomy when they read Articles 55 and 56. But we

should recognize the power of local authorities throughout the country to

administer and control the elections to the National Assembly. These local

councils hold the keys to national power in the new Iraq.

The Basic Law’s ambiguity about the timing of local elections may give

some hope. For example, if the CPA before June were to administer free

democratic elections for local councils in all Governates, then the

significance of these articles would be reversed.


Roger Myerson





Roger B. Myerson

W.C.Norby Professor of Economics

Department of Economics

University of Chicago

1126 East 59th Street

Chicago, IL 60637

N.B. A reader challenged this reading of Article 55, noting that it does in fact provide for provincial elections concurrent with national ones. On that point, Professer Myerson retracts.

Cole says: I still think the point that free and fair municipal and provincial elections should ideally have been held before the national one is a good one.

– 3/11/04 7:23 pm.

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