Saturday, September 24, 2005

Blogging, constitution, elections and an "IPDP" update...

Sorry for not writing anything in the past few days; this was neither because there's nothing going on to talk about nor because we're getting lazy to do so! But it's pretty much because of the state of uncertainty, I mean everything happening in Iraq now is kind of partial, reversible and "portable" and here I'm talking about politics mainly.
Well, maybe that's not an accurate description of the situation. What bothers me is that local media is not doing the job they're supposed to do; they're either ignoring events, exaggerating them or glorifying them in a way that makes the right information rather difficult to get especially that the foreign media has failed to be a good source for information as well.

The above factors combined put s a blogger in a position that he should spend twice the time (if not more) to get a piece of info and more time to verify its accuracy and analyze it and we're from the type of bloggers who'd rather post less frequently than to copy-paste the stuff presented by a hundred other source.
Add to this that the public opinion here is confused and it's not easy to extract news and opinion from it which makes it even harder to blog genuine stuff.

So, I won't say that I was "idle" in the past two days because Mohammed and I were actually gathering info, analyzing them and discussing the findings to provide you with as informative posts as possible.

Now I'll stop whining and let's go back to Iraq and its politics…
I'll try to divide the subject into two parts, that will be the a)constitution b)the December elections.
Since drafting the constitution has ended some time ago, different trends are now trying to publicize their take on the constitution and to convince more people to take a decision to vote in a way that serves what these parties and trends want to see.

What is noticeable now is that no clear majority can be said to be on either side and although the draft was written and agreed upon by the largest two blocs in the National Assembly, followers and supporters of these blocs do not seem equally willing to vote with 'yes'.
And while no opposition to the constitution is coming from the Kurdish people, the division is more pronounced in the Sheat population as there's a sizeable percentage that opposed the federal state.

The Sunni politicians and parties also are pushing towards rejecting the constitution. However these politicians and parties are not representative of the Sunni Arabs and what they say may not reflect what the people want but in general it seems that more Sunnis are going to vote with 'no' on the October referendum.
The above distribution is supposed to cover roughly 90% of the population but in fact it does not as there are the secular trends, the communists and many independent people who do not follow this party or that faction.

The secular trends themselves have different opinions; some believe that the constitution is a step back to the dark ages and allows religion to take a bigger role than it should, thus these seculars want to vote the constitution down, give the people a chance to choose a new parliament to draft a new document.
These parties hope they can get more seats in the parliament so that they can influence the writing in a way that a more modern document can be produced.
The recent failures of the government in dealing with security and economic issues are seen as a positive sign by the seculars who think this can encourage more voters to choose them instead of the major-mostly religious-parties.

The other secular trend has another point of view; they see ratifying the constitution as a step forward as to the democratic process in general, so they seem more inclined to support the constitution as a first step but only to amend it later.
Such parties fear the failure of the constitution (which they see as half a step back) because they don't want the country to move two steps back where the country will need to start the process all over again.

There are also other religious and ethnic minorities who don't seem happy with what's been stated in the draft and they think their rights will be severely eroded under this constitution. Here we have mainly the Christians, Turkmen and the Shabak (who complained about their ethnic rights being ignored).
The Turkmen's opposition to the constitution comes from their age-old conflict over Kirkuk which is home town for people from both groups; still there are some Turkmen who sided with the Kurds and even others who sided with the Sheat alliance following their sectarian background.

The event of the week in this regard is the statement released from Sistani's office in which one of his aides said that Sistani advices Iraqis to vote with 'yes' and probably the "fatwa" will be officially declared within a few days.
This is not going to affect the people's decision like it did last time because the Sheat Iraqis have seen the disadvantages of following the wishes of the clergy and they will certainly be skeptical to some extent now.

So all I can say now is that the results of the referendum can not be accurately predicted at the moment and the outcome will depend to a great extent on the geographic distribution of votes throughout the country.

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.

While we're talking about elections and alliances, I'll seize the chance to give you the latest update on our party the "Iraq Pro-Democracy Party".
A week or so ago, our party merged with another Iraqi party that shares the same views and hopes for Iraq to form a new secular democratic trend that will enter the December elections and hopefully score better results this time.
I will of course keep you updated on this topic.

I'm done for now…


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