Iraq’s parliament finally passed the provincial election law. The vote was 127 out of 140. The Kurdish bloc walked out in protest beforehand. The reason is the bill calls for a vote in Kirkuk on whether the region should share power between the major groups Kurds, Arabs, Turkoman, and other minorities. The Iraqi constitution calls for a census and then vote on whether the area will join the Kurdistan region. These two measures have been delayed several times, to the consternation of the Kurdish bloc.
The future of the law remains cloudy. The vote was held in secret without following parliamentary rules, which happens to be unconstitutional. The law now goes to the Presidential Council for final ratification. Because the Kurds walked out there is a concern that President Jala Talabani, a Kurd as well, will veto the bill in the Council. Deputy speaker of parliament Khalid al-Attiyah told a news conference that it was bad policy to pass the bill when an entire bloc objected to it. He said, “Regrettably after doing this, I do not see any chance for the election to be held in this year if this process continues.” The bill extends the deadline for elections from October 1 to December 31.
The provincial elections are expected to reconfigure the political map in Iraq. The election could allow a whole new group of political parties such as ones based upon the Sons of Iraq and tribes, to challenge the ruling political parties, the Kurds, the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, the Dawa Party, and the Iraqi Accordance Front. That could also cause problems down the road as the Sunni and Shiite communities are fragmenting rather than coalescing. With the potential for so many parties getting elected, provincial councils could become deadlocked with too many different opinions. Of course, the bill needs to be ratified by the Presidential Council before any of this potential for change can happen.
Associated Press, “Iraqi parliament passes election law,” 7/22/08
Aswat Aliraq, “Endorsing provincial councils’ law flouts Iraqi constitution rules – expert,” 7/22/08
- “Parliament approves provincial councils elections law,” 7/22/08
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