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Will The Latest Iraqi Elections Be Legitimate?

This weekend there is voting in Iraq to choose local leadership in 14 of 18 of Iraq's provinces. So far there are some encouraging signs that this election may be viewed as somewhat more legitimate than the past elections in Iraq where Shiite and allied militia members once dominated the balloting and left many in the smaller Sunni community feeling disenfranchised.

Despite past U.S. concerns that Nouri al-Maliki was a largely ineffective leader, he did move ahead legislation through the Iraqi parliament that helps to remove political parties that are aligned with militia groups such as the Sadrists. Maliki viewed thia as an important step in keeping "criminal gangs" from dominating the political process. These armed militia groups even managed to once replace the elected mayor of Baghdad in armed coup and replace him with their own militia candidate at one time as a demonstration of their strength. But Maliki has managed to walk a tightrope and slowly weaken the grip of the militias and their political power in Iraq.Nouri_al-Maliki_2.jpg

Iraq now has over 400 political parties, many of which were only recently formed meaning much more political diversity is now possible since the power of militia groups within both the Shiite and Sunni parties has now been diminished and the dominant Shiite majority bloc in Iraqi politics has suffered a number of recent political fractures. And with the angry departure of supporters of radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr from the ruling Shiite bloc in 2007, this leaves the other two large remaining Shiite parties including the Dawa Islamic Party of Nouri al-Maliki and the Islamic Supreme Council Of Iraq running on separate ballot party lists.

Nouri al-Maliki has also managed to gain widespread support for his moderate approach to rule in Iraq, where even in the Sunni community he has gained some decent popularity. This also translates into a lower level of sectarian tensions.

Another encouraging sign is that the role of women in Iraq seems to be rapidly growing despite many who follow conservative Muslim religious practices. Of the 14,431 candidates running in Jan 31 elections, 3,912 of the candidates are women. This is an all time high for any Iraqi election.

Also somewhat encouraging is that this latest election is supposed to be more democratic in nature than the past Iraqi elections which were done with something called a "closed-list" system. Voters had to choose a party, and then the parties selected the representatives to the Iraqi parliament. This latest election allows Iraqi voters to choose individual candidates from the ballot who are then elected based on the largest number of votes. This latest ballot should be much more democratic in nature as long as fraud in the vote counting is limited.

However, there still remains serious concerns that minority groups such as the Christians will not receive much representation. There was an attempt to remove Article 50 of the draft elections law that promised some representation for the Christian community by the Iraqi parliament, which resulted in violent protests and finally the UN demanding that the government of Iraq give fair proportional representation to the Christians in the government. Iraqi Christians also received some support from a Sunni Sadrist leader who believed that they should be included in the government. However, Christians are now only guaranteed just one representative in six provinces when the UN actually demanded that 12 seats be given. And three other minority groups have one seat each in the parliament as well. All of this falls far short of UN demands for fairness. Yet it is probably better than nothing.

Regardless, any new political leadership for Iraq faces a daunting task. There is a real shortage of clean drinking water. The sewer system of Iraq is only made for a population about one fourth the size of the current usage. Electrical service is still intermittent, and many in cities like Baghdad still have only 3 to 8 hours a day of electrical power, while many villages have never had electrical service. Many store-owners use their own gas powered generators to provide their own electrical service. And Iraq may have an unemployment rate of nearly 30% with little outside investment due to the violence in the country. And educational institutions have faced huge losses of teachers and professors as violence claimed many of their lives or religious militia gangs harassed females for attending school.

Iraq is a real economic basket case, and certainly ranks as as one of the poorest of oil producing nations in the world. And the recent huge decline in world oil prices has left the country largely broken and unable to pay for many vital functions. Iraq had based their government budget on oil revenues at around $80 or more dollars a barrel, not $42-43 a barrel like the current world oil prices have been.

This weekend's elections will be a real challenge. First whether these elections are really more democratic and fair than the past. And secondly, how will the new leadership deal with all of the serious economic and poverty problems in Iraq. So far only the violence problem has eased somewhat in Iraq, but a myriad of other problems remain like an ugly hydra and continue to challenge this complicated and troubled state.

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Comments (5)


Yes, they will be, Acorn hasn't set up shop in Iraq, yet.


You mean more democratic and fair than the elections uncle saddam held? or more democratic and fair then the elections acorn bought?


I don't know. Does Iraq have a Chicago where the dead vote and the corrupt rise to the top?


Chad, did you know: After all the stuff, nonsense, bullshit, lies, hoaxes, WSJ "editorials", Fox "News" Alerts, Presidential candidate lies, phony "conspiracy" claims, and-wall-to-wall cable and radio garbage that we had to endlessly suffer through, for months on end, leading up to last year's election, about supposed, massive "voter fraud" being committed --- by Democrats, naturally --- it turns out that in one of OH's largest counties, an exhaustive investigation by a Republican Special Prosecutor, appointed by his former GOP prosecutor partner (the Hamilton County Prosecutor who was also a state co-chair for the McCain/Palin campaign), looked into hundreds of "serious" allegations of such "fraud" and found exactly one such case. One case. No, it wasn't Ann Coulter. She commits her voter fraud in FL and in CT instead. But it was someone who had already turned himself in. His vote was never counted. That's it. One case. Out of nearly half a million votes cast in Hamilton County, just one fraudulent vote was found.

Is anybody gonna apologize here? Anybody? Rush? Sean? O'Reilly? John Fund? John McCain? John Danforth? Karl Rove? Tom Feeney? "Thor" Hearne? Todd Rokita? Jackasess at Powerline? Jackasses at Redstate? The entirety of the shameful, unpatriotic Fox "News" Channel? Anybody? Any of you liars and cowards and thieves and democracy-hating, facist-loving, Stalinesque, Saddamites have the guts, the courage, the sense of decency --- the love for your country --- to stand up and say you were wrong? That you are sorry? Anyone? Anywhere? Of course not.

No apologies, of course, because they'll all be back in two years and the same horseshit will be flowing loud and clear, once again from their democracy-hating souls, out to millions of Americans who are ready to believe --- listening over the corporately-run, though publicly-owned airwaves --- all over again and again and again. And again. Not that they'll wait that long. Measures claimed to supposedly prevent (non-existent) "voter fraud" --- little more than measures meant to rob minorities, the elderly, students, and anyone else who tends to not vote Republican, of their Constitutional rights. It sure seems like if the Republicans can't steal it they piss on it.


All that angst and still perfectly willing to accept voter fraud as long as its sponsered by dems.

Democracy hating souls? Sounds like Stan Lee was your english teacher.


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