Monday, November 07, 2005

With less than 40 days to the next elections...

Political parties and alliances launched their campaigns to prepare themselves for the December elections; they’re marketing their programs and policies in a way that is considerably different from what we experienced a year ago and entirely different from what we had for decades under the Ba’ath despotic rule.
Now we have more than a few platforms to choose from and not the one and only “central report of the national conference of the Ba’ath party” which used to poetically illustrate the Party’s totalitarian vision for the Arab nation and we had the right to choose then too but it was more like "take this or have your head taken"! While now we see politicians seeking voters’ acceptance, each one of them building his strategy on what he believes appeals to the mainstream opinion.

A few days ago, the united alliance (the religious Sheat slate) revealed its platform which has the formation of the federal south as its core theme. The idea and the expected benefits were emphasized by Abdul Aziz al-Hakeem during a press conference last week.
This shows a will on the part of the SCIRI and allies to form an Iran-like state in the southern provinces of Iraq. This, even if not publicly stated but shows clear from the exclusively religious composition of this alliance after moderate/liberal elements like Chalabi, Bahril Iloom (the oil minster) and Ali al-Dabbagh departed the alliance and are now going to enter the election in separate slates.

At the same time, the Sadr trend-which is now the 2nd biggest component of the Sheat alliance after the SCIRI-based their campaign on the issue of ending the presence of “occupation forces”, reactivating the deba’athification process and halting any attempt to build peace with the “Zionist entity” without a word about the federal state idea endorsed by the SCIRI.
Moreover, some Sadr spokesmen occasionally continue to criticize the new constitution and its writers, perhaps they forgot that it was their allies in the SCIRI and Dawa who had the biggest role in writing the draft!

So, apparently the united alliance is not in its best shape nowadays and this is evident from the lack of harmony between the major elements and the widely differing declared policies and goals, actually there’s one incident that became a joke in the streets; the spokesman of Fadheela party said when he announced that the party joined the alliance “We were planning to enter in a separate list but since the deadline was yesterday, we decided-with reservations-to go back to the united alliance”!! The joke here goes like “is this an invitation to elect them with reservations??”.
The reputation of the alliance is being further damaged by reports of campaign posters of secular parties like Mithal’s Allawi’s and Chalabi’s being torn off the walls in cities like Najaf and Kerbala where followers of Sadr and the SCIRI predominate. This of course is against the regulations of the IECI and it won’t be a surprise if we hear soon about charges raised against the alliance.

On the other hand, the Iraqi Nation Party of Mithal al-Alusi which has been gaining more interest from the people here has announced their campaign which focuses mainly on improving the food rations system and eradicating terrorism and corruption; words that are not uncommon but the determined character of the man who said them makes one inclined to believe he means what he said and while I don’t think the food rations system is a good way of improving the life of Iraqis, I think if this man and his party reach offices they will most likely change the balance in Iraq’s war against terror and corruption.

Allawi’s team has also outlined their intended policy for the next four years which can be found in Arabic on New Sabah in a quite lengthy piece that included Allawi’s plans for so many issues but security and rebuilding the armed forces took nearly half of the document, anyway I’ll try to discuss this further in another post.

What I wanted to say is that, according to the current findings and observations, I think that next government will be formed from two blocs at least and maybe three or even four but there will be also a more pronounced and active opposition inside the parliament unlike what we have now because this time I expect to see a wider variety of trends and opinions with more small-to-mid-sized blocs winning several seats in the parliament and this will prevent the monopoly of decision making and eventually people will no longer feel they're being unjustly silenced or marginalized.

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