Shafaq News / Only few days separate the Iraqis from exiting the elections’ purgatory. The Iraqi parliament is supposed to convene its session next Saturday, to resolve the political scapegoat on the law of legislative elections.. If it fails to convene, Iraqis would be threatened to miss the opportunity of what the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General in Iraq, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert described as “renewing political life” in the country.
From a legal-technical point of view, it is not easy to agree between political blocs fighting a new electoral law that requires them to move from adopting each Iraqi province as a single electoral district to dividing each province into several and smaller constituencies.
Such a shift raises fear of the loss of large electoral segments in the major political blocs, and therefore the loss of some of their popular weight; which naturally reflects on the strength of their presence in the corridors of the parliament.
But that is not enough of an excuse for the voters who are hungry for political change, especially in the post-October revolution, which revealed a wide gap of trust between many mainstream traditional parties and citizens.
That's why Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert was candid in her interview with Shafaq News agency, a few days after her visit to the supreme Shiite authority, Ali Al-Sistani, in Najaf when she warned of the repercussions of Iraq's failure to hold credible early elections.
When asked about the nature of her warning that Iraq was sliding into a "dangerous slope" after meeting with Al-Sistani, Hennis-Plasschaert said, "The Iraqi Government has pledged to hold credible early elections; this is a response to a major popular demand and ambition. We have said on many occasions and continue to emphasize: the elections are Iraqi-led and owned by Iraqis, and it is important to set the record straight because free and credible elections are essential to build public confidence, the public's confidence in the political process is also necessary for the country to move forward on many other issues. In other words, credible and properly conducted elections are of great importance, it could mark a period of renewed progress and address people's concerns. Popular representation and the renewal of political life are essential in every democracy and elections are the lifeblood of democracies. For the upcoming elections are of great importance. If done properly, it could mark a period of renewed progress".
Meanwhile, political forces have been fighting for weeks over the division of Iraq's 18 provinces into multiple districts, amid differences over their size and the boundaries of each district, while the parliamentary assembly is due to meet on Saturday, according to the call of Parliament Speaker Mohamed Al-Halbousi, whose agenda includes a single paragraph dedicated to resolving the potential division debate.
The idea of dividing electoral districts has been one of the results of the protest movement that has been taking place in Iraq for nearly a year, and many, including Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, hope to help calm the demonstrators and convince them that political change is possible through the ballot box, with a better representative law. However, there are concerns in Iraq that Saturday's session may not be held based on differences over the so-called "Article 15", or if the session is held without satisfactory prior understandings for the majority, the session may be futile.
"It became necessary to complete the electoral districts and have a fair and equitable law to hold early elections that meet the aspirations of the people and express their will, so I call on all political forces to assume their responsibilities to complete the law and attend the session on Saturday, September 26th, whose agenda will be with a single paragraph dedicated to completing the electoral districts", Al-Halbousi said in a statement.
"The issue of electoral districts is complex, in addition to the lack of a census in Iraq, Political forces want to rely on constituencies and their number according to their interests”, Diyar Barwari, a member of Kurdistan’s Democratic Parliamentary Bloc, said to Shafaq News agency, "The presidency of the House of Representatives will present the proposals of the political forces to vote in next week's session; the most prominent proposal is to divide the electoral province into three or five constituencies according to the percentage of the population of the province".
If the political forces have the right to anticipate an electoral law that would cost them some of their parliamentary influence, they risk losing more popular support if they appear to be obstructing attempts to renew political life in Iraq, which is burdened with heavy problems and concerns.
It is harmful to the political forces to appear to the Iraqis -despite the harsh phase they are going through- as if they are trying to draw the lines of multiple constituencies according to their interests, rather than trying to succeed in the idea of working to achieve greater popular representation of the voters and to help their vote to reach the parliament.
In an interview with Shafaq News agency, Plasschaert was keen to show the UN's interest in the new electoral process and to ensure that Iraqis were represented, "The United Nations in Iraq is fulfilling its mandate by providing advice, assistance, and technical support to the government and relevant national institutions to conduct elections that are credible and acceptable to all Iraqis; the independence of the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) must be protected from political interference".
It also means that the political forces impeding the new electoral law will not only find themselves in conflict with the United Nations, but also with the desire of Al-Sistani and the prime minister, Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, who made it clear that one of the main objectives of his mission as head of the government is to organize early, fair, and well-represented elections.
Ghaleb Mohammed, a member of Kurdistan’s Gorran (change) bloc, told Shafaq News agency, “the passage of the electoral law faces major difficulties, most notably political differences and the law of the Federal Court. the law cannot be adopted without a full political agreement between the parliamentary blocs".
The other side of the scene of secret and public debates between party representatives is not only about the division of electoral districts, but also extends to the voting system itself and whether it will be done by biometric card or through the regular cards adopted in previous elections; as well as on the method of direct voting or through lists.
"We heard that through media; the winning bloc is the government, not the largest parliamentary bloc.. This needs a decisive decision from the Federal Court to resolve the controversy and political disputes", Mazen Abdel Mun’im al-Faily, member of the National Alnahj Bloc, told Shafaq News agency commenting on the formation of the government by the winning bloc per the electoral law being discussed.
But time is running out, as lawmakers are invited to Saturday's session as a new test of their ability to conform to the aspirations of the Iraqi public, and this is at the heart of their parliamentary and moral duties, while the IHEC has already confirmed its readiness to supervise the early elections on June 6th, with four conditions, namely, the completion of the electoral law, completion of the quorum of the Federal Court, the creation of the electoral budget, and the provision of international oversight.
Hussein Arab, spokesman for the Coalition of Iraqis said, “the political forces had engaged in intensive dialogues to agree on the resolution of the constituencies. There is a political and parliamentary determination as well as intense dialogues to resolve this issue during Saturday's session; we expect the vote to be closest to the middle-class constituencies, and in the coming hours, there will be final solutions between all parties or even the majority of those parties, if not all of them”.
hopes for early elections, there are other concerns that the ongoing debates
and understandings will also lead to the emergence of a law that strengthens
rather than weakens the "quota", which will not be decisively
confirmed until the polls close on the secrets of voters in June the 6th.