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Monday, October 03, 2005

The Phantom Election

Maybe it's just me, but I've heard barely a whisper of the coming Iraqi referendum on the news. Odd, because there's a chance that the whole assembly > constitution > referendum > elections > democracy process could fall apart.

I'm going to leave that opening paragraph because I thought it was true I've just gone to check for news updates and I find this (posted about an hour ago)

I was planning to write a much longer post on this, but this kind of throws things into the air. It is in effect a coup by the Parliament against the law it operates under. Having done this, there is nothing at all to stop the Parliament passing the constitution by itself, or cancelling forthcoming elections or well anything it feels like. It's a powergrab, by which the ruling parties have pushed through their constitution in a move clearly intended to disenfranchise those opposed to it.

Now there is the point that the Parliament was elected, but Parliaments exist by the sufferance of the people and are expected to do what they're entrusted to do and no more. The Transitional Adminstrative Law deliberately kept the Parliament weak by limiting it's term (till the November elections) and it's remit (agree a constitution, reconstitute government). This certainly isn't what it was elected to do.

So what is this likely to mean for the aforementioned assembly > constitution > referendum > elections > democracy process ? My ten cents is that it makes it much less likely that the process will result in peace, or even a curtailment of the insurgency. I can't believe that there will be anything other than a boycott of the constitutional referendum in the Sunni provinces now. Their only remaining option is to deny the vote legitimacy by witholding their support. When you agree to a political process you assume that all parties will play by the rules - that seems to have gone out of the window with this.

I suspect that this sets Iraq onto a longer and darker course than it was on previously, if such a thing is possible. If the Iraqi Parliament see this through it will deepen the insurgency, providing a legitimate grievance to a vast swathe of the nation who so far have not sympathised with the armed opposition.

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