writes Meral Çiçek for Yeni Özgür Politika.he most desired outcome of the Iraqi legislative elections for the Western powers is the change in the balance of power among the Shiites. Whatever the results may be, the deadlock in Iraq will not be able to be solved with these elections: actually, it might further intensify, because this deadlock is structural,”
When Mustafa al-Kadhimi took the place of former Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi following his resignation, one his promises was for early elections. Early elections and change of the government were among the key demands of the anti-government protest movement which swept Iraq in October 2019.
Yet it would not be so accurate to link Kadhimi’s early elections, which he announced in July of last year, to the massive protests centred in Baghdad.
Actually, it was the United Nations which carried out promotional and persuasion efforts at the diplomatic level for the legislative elections scheduled in Iraq for 10 October.
The European Union, which has not seemed particularly interested in the Iraqi parliamentary elections, has decided to deploy an Election Observation Mission (EOM) to observe the elections. Viola Von Cramon-Taubadel, a member of the European Parliament who has been appointed as Chief Observer of this EU Electoral Observation Mission, has recently held meetings in Baghdad and Erbil (Hewlêr).
Meanwhile, the peoples of Iraq do not share the same enthusiasm over the elections as the UN and the EU, forming a ‘Western front’ due to escalating tensions between Washington and Tehran. So, voters are enticed to vote in the following manner: 10,000 Iraqi dinars as a ‘phone balance’ will be paid to them when they collect their biometric cards to go and vote.
The turnout of the vote, which in 2018 saw a record low turnout with only 44.5% casting their ballots (based on official numbers, but the actual numbers are thought to be half of this percentage), is expected to be even lower this year as the Iraqi Communist Party has announced that it will boycott the elections. Candidates from Christian communities are also expected to push many Christians to boycott the elections and movements and parties affiliated with the anti-government protests have also declared their decision to boycott the elections.
What kind of a change is expected to come out of elections that were scheduled a year before they were due?
From a societal perspective, there is no significant expectation. The elections, in which more independent candidates are running who have a democratic stance, will run this year, leading to 329 members sitting in the Council of Representatives.
Coming in first place, the Sadr-backed Sairun coalition won 54 seats in Iraq’s 12 May parliamentary election in 2018. Therefore, in order to form a government, it is anticipated that at least seven political powers will be expected to form a coalition government.
Most of the 167 political parties running for the elections are formed into 21 alliances, but since none of these tactical alliances can win an absolute majority, after 10 October, it is expected that the Iraqi Parliament will stage serious efforts to form a consensus government.
Since reaching such a consensus does not only depend on inner dynamics, but also on the interference of international powers, it is hard to foresee the outcome at this moment in time. The most desired outcome of the Iraqi legislative elections for the Western powers is the change in the balance of power among the Shiites. Whatever the results may be, the deadlock in Iraq would not be able to be solved with these elections: actually, it might further intensify, because this deadlock is structural. The current political sytem, the groundwork of which had been built in the 1990s after the the fall of Saddam’s regime, reproduces deadlock over and over again.
This system is not based on the social, cultural, belief-related truths of the peoples living inside Iraq’s state’s borders. Based upon superficial representations, which are nothing more than a showpiece, the political system in Iraq cannot be defined as an administration, but more like a political arena for wars of power and benefit.
Iraq singularly needs a democratic solution: a political system which represents the ethnic, cultural and social fabric of its peoples. Such a system can be built neither by exterior powers nor by interior powers based on a status quo. Therefore, the most urgent need now in Iraq is to organise the Third Way.