With ISIS on the run Iraq has held a round of election trying to find a truly workable government….
Iraq’s electoral law is a complex and idiosyncratic method of securing proportional representation in Parliament. The system tends to favor the largest parties and solid voting blocs using a process so arcane that virtually no one outside of professional politicians and statisticians really understands how it works.
Since the fall of Saddam Iraq has been suffering from sectarian divide and its politics are the battlefield…..can they move past this?
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, a Shiite, has not limited his campaigning for this week’s elections based on traditional sectarian considerations. He has traveled to predominantly Sunni areas such as Salahuddin province about 100 miles north of Baghdad and Anbar province about 70 miles to the west of the capital. He is the most prominent Shiite leader striving to win votes of residents in areas known for strong sectarianism, areas which the Islamic State (IS) invaded in 2014 as the group ultimately settled in about one-third of the country.
In the predominantly Sunni province of Salahuddin, the list of alliances includes diverse ethnic and sectarian names in which 332 candidates from 15 electoral alliances will compete.
Iraqis head to the polls on May 12 to elect a new parliament, after which legislators will choose a speaker, president, and prime minister. The elections come at the end of four tough years for Iraq, with the Islamic State seizing a third of the country in 2014 and the Kurds making a strong push for independence last September.
Despite the turmoil, Kurdish-Arab violence has been minimal, and the numerous victors of the war against IS are all hoping to turn their battlefield triumph into votes. Chief among them is Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who is seeking reelection and a stronger mandate to govern. The numerous Shia militias who fought IS have formed a political coalition that is expected to do well. Yet the electoral prospects are uncertain for the Kurds, whose independence referendum and subsequent military and political setbacks have diluted the goodwill they gained by fighting IS in the north.
In March 2003, the U.S. invaded Iraq, and in June 2004, it tendered sovereignty of the country back to the Iraqis. Iraq’s first elections took place in January 2005 with images of purple fingertips marking the milestone, but elections alone do not make a democracy. The record of the U.S. in fostering Iraqi democracy has been mixed, but despite the errors and setbacks, the U.S. still has an important opportunity to support something unusual: a stable, Arab democracy.
One of the early U.S. errors was the 2003 decision to order de-Ba’athification. This meant that nearly anyone that was part of the government during the Saddam Hussein regime lost their jobs. Those in favor of de-Ba’athification argued it was the only way to remove the Hussein-tainted operatives from the levers of power. Hindsight shows that critics of this decision had the better argument. With de-Ba’athification, the security situation in Iraq worsened, and since Ba’athists were largely Sunni, ethnic tensions amongst Sunnis, Shias, and Kurds were exacerbated.
WE will just have to see how the election turns out….personally as long as there is any sectarian divide democracy will always be a dream on unfulfilled.