Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Women are the biggest losers..so far.

The talks among the winning-and losing-political parties in Iraq have slowed down quite a bit, actually the whole process is somewhat taking a pause since the announcement of the final results which by the way seem to be objection-proof; Aadil al-Lami from the election commission appeared on TV today and said that all 20+ objections that came form different blocs since Thursday have been rejected by the interim judicial electoral committee that has replaced the election commission since the latter has completed its mission…or has it?

Speaking of objections, there were 3 main points that winning blocs used to support their objections; the UIA and the Kurdistan Alliance said that the election commission gave seats to other blocs that haven’t reached the “threshold” that qualifies them to get a seat, say that the UIA for instance got 4 seats in a certain province after winning 160,000 votes while a smaller bloc won a single seat after winning less than 30,000 votes.
The Iraqi list based their objections on another point, that is their claims that violence practiced by supporters of other blocs didn’t give them a chance to campaign freely and they also pointed out that the Iraqi list lost 13 of its offices’ staff and election members during the weeks that preceded the election.

The Accord Front and Dialogue Front objected to the way seats had been distributed among provinces by the election commission before the elections and they say that provinces with Sunni majority were given fewer seats than they actually deserve considering that the election law approved by the National Assembly states that there should be one representative for each 100,000 citizen.
Akba provided some important numbers some time ago and I’m using them to give an example:

Salahiddin: population 1.1+ million…seats allocated 8
Anbar: population 1.3 + million…seats allocated 9
Mosul: population 2.5 + million…seats allocated 19
Total population ~ 5 million…total seats allocated = 36
Duhok: population 0.4 + million…seats allocated 7
Erbil: population 1.3 + million…seats allocated 13
Sulaymania: population 1.7 + million…seats allocated 15
Total population ~ 3.5 million…total seats allocated = 35

Anyway, there a couple of points that I’d like to talk about in brief. First there is the women quota in the parliament which has to be at least 25% of the 275 seats. Unfortunately, this quota is not for certain yet.
During the preparation to the elections, political parties were told that they must have a women every second candidate on their lists to ensure that women get their 25% share and the parties did that but the problem is that the results mathematically denied women this share, especially in provinces with less seats and in provinces where seats were shared by more than 2 lists.
One excellent example is Kirkuk, where the seat allocation gave the Kurdistan Alliance 5 seats while 4 other lists shared the remaining 4 seats.

You can see then that only one list had more than three winning candidates, which means there will be 1 woman representative out of 9 from Kirkuk.

Not all other provinces had the same female/male ratio but I couldn’t find a single province where women got their 25%, maybe Baghdad is the only exception.
But overall, women lost 13 of their seats to male candidates and won only 56 out of their constitutional right that grants them 69 seats.

The election commission has asked the winning blocs to allocate the compensatory seats they have won to women from their lists of candidates in order to compensate the shortage. Will this solve the problem? I hope but I’m not certain.

The other disturbing point is related to even a more critical issue, that is the ability (and will) of the new parliament to amend the constitution.
You may know that it had been agreed upon to form a committee to study proposals for amendments concerning several articles in the constitution within few months after the parliament is seated and that agreement was what encouraged many of the Sunni and secular voters to vote “yes’ for the draft constitution.
This agreement is now in danger, a couple of days ago I read on al-Sabah that the UIA wants the committee that will study proposed amendments to be formed according to the way seats have been distributed in the parliament.
If this happens, amendments will have to pass through 2 firewalls; these are the committee and the parliament before they are put before the voters for a referendum, thus practically preventing any amendment that doesn’t appeal to the UIA from passing.
In my opinion this is totally unfair, this committee has to be independent, yes, the parliament has to be there to approve or disapprove suggested amendments but why? Why put another block to stop ideas from even being discussed in the parliament? This I don’t understand neither will I accept.

Going back to the first topic of negotiations to form the government, it is believed that this pause is not lasting long. Jalal Talabani said this morning that he’s on his way from Sulaymania to Baghdad for a new round of talks.
Meanwhile, from the same report, Adnan al-Pachachi, a top figure of the Iraqi list announced that representatives from the Iraqi list, Accord and Dialogue fronts have officially signed an agreement in Amman/Jordan to enter negotiations with other blocs as one unified bloc.

More on this tomorrow.

Oh, and by the way, here's an interesting alternative scenario from Talisman Gate.

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