Shiite List to be Announced
Hussein Shahristani, the Shiite scientist charged by Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani with cobbling together a big comprehensive Shiite list, said Monday that the full listing of candidate names (in ranked order) would be made available on Tuesday. The list is being called the United Iraqi Congress. The list groups the major Shiite parties and factions, including the Sadr Movement of Muqtada al-Sadr, the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, the Dawa Party, the Islamic Dawa, Iraqi Hizbullah (Marsh Arabs), the secular-leaning Iraqi National Congress of corrupt financier Ahmad Chalabi, and many Shiite independents. About half the list will be Shiite tribal chieftains and notables not associated with one of the (largely expatriate) parties. A few Sunni Arabs, Turkmen and Faili Kurds are also on the list, and it was being rumored that the small Sunni Arab nationalist party of Nasiruddin Chadirchi might be on the list as well. Likewise the chieftain of the largely Sunni Shamar tribe may be included on the Sistani list.
The election will be conducted as one national poll, with voters getting only one vote, for a particular list of candidates. If a list has 100 candidates and gets 10 percent of the vote, it will be able to seat its top 27 candidates. The list must be presented in ranked order.
Twelver Shiites of the Usuli school that predominates in Iraq believe that laypersons should defer to religious scholars on issues of religious law. That Sistani backs this list will be a powerful incentive for Shiites to vote for it.
It is still unclear how a disaster will be averted if the Sunni Arabs largely boycott the election or don’t come out to vote for their candidates in nearly the same proportions as the Shiites and the Kurds. They could end up substantially under-represented in parliament as it moves to crafting a permanent constitution.
Meanwhile, 600 delegates from the Shiite communities of the Middle Euphrates met in Najaf to consider the creation of a large Shiite province out of several smaller ones. Modern Iraq has 18 provinces. Saddam for some time created and maintained a 19th so as to strength the hand of the Sunni Arabs. Iraq has reverted to 18 provinces, but many Iraqi ethnic groups are dissatisfied with them. The Kurds want to create an ethnic, Kurdish province out of 6 existing provinces. The Shiites of the three far southern provinces have spoken of creating a big Shiite province. Now the Middle Euphrates Shiites appear to be aiming at some gerrymandering of their own. Muwaffaq al-Rubaie, the former national security adviser for Iraq, has suggested dividing Iraq into five ethnic provinces, with one Kurdish, two Sunni Arab and two Shiite. His plan leaves out the Turkmen and Christians, who would demand their own provinces. Countries with small numbers of largely homogeneous ethnically-based provinces tend to be more unstable than countries with large numbers of states or provinces that are each ethnically mixed.