The Iraqi Constitution


Robert Mayer from Publius Pundit has written an excellent analysis of the upcoming Iraqi Constitution:

While the most over-reported story (and the most debunked) story in the press this past August was the drafting of and the opposition to the Iraqi constitution, the most under-reported story in September is how ongoing negotiations have moderated large portions of the document?s opposition. In fact, as some of the contentious issues have been negotiated down, and the document has circulated amongst the general population, its approval and acceptance has become more likely. While we can?t perfectly predict what will happen, major leaders on the playing field are saying that they will not mount strong campaigns against the constitution, and will focus instead on the December elections.

What?s interesting also is the large disconnect between Iraqis themselves and the leaders that they elected. The National Assmembly elections last January were a brilliant moment in Iraqi history, but the fact is, there were so many random parties and candidates that nobody really knew who to vote for, so many Shia voted for the religious parties that were endorsed. Also, the dramatic Sunni leaders currently in the assembly weren?t elected due to the Sunni boycott, but were actually selected to be in the assembly as an olive branch effort.

After watching these people wrangle over issues like Islam in the constitution and turning the south into an area controlled by religious militias affiliated with the major political parties, people are taking notice of the way these people rule and aren?t liking it. The constitution is actually pretty good now, and now that it is being read widely by the population, people aren?t as up in arms about it as they used to be, when they only knew what their leaders told them.

Since it will be likely approved, the shaping up of the December elections is even more interesting now than the October referendum. If you take into account what I just wrote, people are beginning to opt for good governance over religious ideology in government. This attitude, combined with high Sunni turnout, will lead to a huge drop in the representation of religious parties. Here is what I predicted a while back.

So why the rush to make decisions on these issues? Why not leave it up to future parliaments to negotiate in order to avoid a ?no? setback? Because come the parliamentary election in December, the gap will likely be closed by a large margin, meaning that religious parties will lose seats as the public has learned what they represent. And they don?t want it. Also, the Sunnis won?t be boycotting, which will give them a larger representation to fuel direct opposition to sectarian federalism.

Now, it appears that secular parties are rising to the top, while religious parties are beginning to wilt. Omar talks about the fracture developing in the current leadership, as names somewhat forgotten like former prime minister Allawi are becoming prominent again.

Election wise, parties and candidates are working fast to prepare themselves for the next competition by forming alliances and gathering public support, so far the IECI announced the registration of 42 political bodies that will be competing in December (the number was 111 in the January elections) and this attributed to more and more parties joining efforts to form bigger alliances to increase their chances of winning seats in the parliament especially that it is expected to need over 40,000 votes to win a single seat compared with 30,000 more or less last January since most signals indicate a higher turnout this time.

Among the most prominent emerging alliances is that of former PM Allawi who?s most likely going to enter the elections as a major player and probably could win more seats than what the two major blocs did last time. Allawi is inviting everyone to join him and he?s getting some good responses from other parties; the most significant addition was made by the major Sunni party, the Islamic Party which joined Allawi last week.

While this is happening, there are news that the Sheat alliance is suffering from serious divisions among its major components, namely observers expect Chalabi and vice president Aadil Abdulmahdi to depart the team and form their own secular-Sheat alliance.

What we?re essentially seeing in Iraq is the formation of large political parties based on moreso on political than ethnic or religious differences. It?s just the start, but by December, the full force of such a trend will be seen when elections are held in which all members of Iraqi society ? men, women, Sunni, Shia, whatever ? participate. Even as violence escalates in the country as the October referendum nears, the media is reporting that and only that. They were content to chastise the supposed failure of negotiating a liberal constitution even before the negotiations were over, and have since failed to do a follow-up showing just how promising the developing political situation amongst the various sectors of civil society is.

It’s interesting to note that the MSM does not report this kind of stuff. They report on the suicide bombers but not on the ongoing success of this Constitution.

As a side note, someone questioned Robert about what exactly is being changed in the Constitution, here is his answer:

That?s a really good question actually, and I probably should have gone into it. Several things have been negotiated down, like the condition of former members of the Baath party (which was a sizeable portion of the population, most of which were Sunni), the role of Islam in the constitution and its adherence to democratic standards (which was madly blown up by the media, as Afghanistan has nearly the same phraseology in its own constitution and hasn?t returned to a theocracy), and federalism with regards to the role of the federal government, the separation of regions, and the distribution of regional resources. While the original draft was approved after much delay, it wasn?t final (so as not to dissolve the assembly), which has allowed the negotiations and changes to happen behind the scenes over the past month.

Can you hear the screams from the left yet? Screams of “LIES, LIES, IT’S ALL LIES YOU NEOCONS!”

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