Daniel R. DePetris: The Political Docket

Iraq’s Election Is Over, But Now for the Hard Part

Posted in Iraq by Dan on March 8, 2010

So the Iraqi election is over, and when all is said and done, it was a relatively significant accomplishment for democracy in the region.  Sure, the elections weren’t exactly perfect, but in a region where elections are usually for show, it is still a pretty great achievement.  Now for the hard part…picking a government that Iraq’s political leaders will accept and endorse.

First off, we won’t know the election results for quite some time, and speculating about the winner will only get hopes up (depending which side you are for). Early reporting on election results are often preliminary and unedited in all societies…remember that awful three month experience the United States faced in 2000? Truth be told, if the U.S. cannot accurately predict a close election, we should not expect the Iraqi media to do that much better. I mean c’mon, there were 6,100 candidates vying for over 300 seats, so early coverage should be taken with a grain of salt.

Optimism is profound right now. Iraqis are showing off their purple-fingers and are boasting about their country’s democratic successes. Insurgents only managed to kill 36 people across the country during Election Day, a tragic number, but still remarkably low when putting the attacks into context. Iraqis braved the violence, eager to make their voices heard through ballots instead of bullets.

But again, the real test will come after the election results are tallied. In the short term, who leads the government is a distant second to how the government is picked. Will months proceed without an Iraqi Government, like in 2005 when it took almost 6 months for the parties to agree on a Prime Minister? Or will Sunnis, Shias, and Kurds do some effective backroom dealing, dividing the spoils in a way that will provide Sunnis and Kurds with representation?

We don’t know yet. Too early to tell, but this is certainly a great first step.

-Daniel R. DePetris

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**Comments courtesy of the Economist and Marc Lynch**


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8 Responses

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  1. stefano de santis said, on March 8, 2010 at 7:13 pm

    Iraq is the only democracy in the Arab world and the living proof that democracy can be exported with force,if and when necessary.George Bush and all those who followed him was right:this is a simple fact,love it or not.

    • So... said, on March 8, 2010 at 7:15 pm

      stefano,

      “Iraq is the only democracy in the Arab world and the living proof that democracy can be exported with force,if and when necessary.George Bush and all those who followed him was right:this is a simple fact,love it or not.”

      Serious question: Is that what you really come away with from our (continuing) Iraq saga?

    • Stooksberry said, on March 9, 2010 at 1:18 am

      @Stefano: Does this “simple fact” also apply to Afghanistan right now? Any more dittohead sound bites that you would like to share that don’t involve critically analyzing the situation?

    • Nirvana-bound said, on March 9, 2010 at 1:18 am

      @ stefano:

      Either you’re joking outlandishly or hallucinating uncontrollably!

      The Iraq you allude to does not exist on Planet Earth!!

      What delusional & totally sham democracy are you waxing so poetic about??

      Iraq is just a fast disintegrating, chaotic & splintering satelite nation-in-the-making of Imperial America.

      Wake up & smell the putrid deception wafting across the Euphrates-Tigris Delta..

      • Irreverent Comment said, on March 9, 2010 at 1:19 am

        Nirvana,

        Even Obama congratulated the Iraqis on moderately successful democratic election. What’s your beef with them? People actually made an effort to vote, even when facing very explicit grave threats for doing so. Denying them their honor because of your dislike of Dubya is rather conceited. If, on the other side, you consider “communist” Obama a part of the American evil empire machine, you probably cannot find any news worthy of your approval, aside from the Cuban or Venezuelan official press. If everything around you is so putrid, you gotta check the source of the smell. It may be closer to home…

  2. Economist Fan 35 said, on March 8, 2010 at 7:13 pm

    No matter the results, Iran will remain the biggest winner in Iraq. It has militias, and can flex a muscle to impose its will, just like how Iranian proxies lost in Lebanese elections, but still dictated the formation of a cabinet to their liking. For more on Iran’s inevitable victory in Iraq, read more
    http://hussainabdulhussain.blogspot.com/2010/03/iran-only-winner-of-iraq

  3. Dixie Cup Drinker said, on March 8, 2010 at 7:14 pm

    It remains to be seen whether or not Iraq’s electoral system, problem fraught as it is currently, will be able to stand up without the presence of the hundred thousand or so American troops. It seems somewhat premature on the part of those who are trumpeting the success of the American regime change operation and democratization of Iraq to do so when there has not been a single election absent foreign occupation, or a single peaceful transferal of power. The peaceful transferal of power between political opponents is one of the foundations of an electoral democracy and i for one will withhold judgement until Iraq has fully demonstrated this ability.

  4. janbekster said, on March 9, 2010 at 1:21 am

    One must say that the success of the elections in Iraq, is a testament to the courage and maturity of the Iraqi people. As for what happens afterwards, well, the permutations are endless. Nevertheless, if left to one, I would say that, I wish first of all, for Iraq to have an Arab president {no racism here, after all one is ethnically non-Arab} because Iraq is and has always been part of the Arab world. Secondly, I would want to see, both Mr. Barzani and Mr. Talibani toppled from their positions of running Kurdish political affairs. Thirdly, one would wish to see Dr. Allawi as the prime minister of Iraq, and finally, for the Iraqi people to pick the fruits of the promises made by the USA, when it invaded Iraq.
    khairi janbek.paris/france


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