Iraqi CP Opposes Anti-Democratic Changes

The following statement from the Iraqi CP is well worth reading. And disturbing, if not that great a shock.

Iraqi Communist Party: Unjust amendments to the election law
are real threat to democracy

The Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Iraqi Communist Party issued a statement on 10th November 2009, exposing the unjust amendments to the election law that the Iraqi Parliament had passed a day earlier. The endorsement of the election law “and the grave measures it includes, constitute a fundamental retreat from democracy in our country and a real threat to its future,” the statement said. The party called on the Presidency of the Republic, which is in charge of ensuring adherence to the Constitution, to overturn articles 1 and 3 of the election law that was approved on 9th November 2009, and send them back to the Parliament to be amended so that the law is truly democratic.

The amendments to the law, passed by the Parliament after weeks of bickering among influential and dominant blocs, may have averted the consequences of postponing the elections (originally scheduled for 16th January 2010), and endorsed the “open list” system. But the party statement warned against the grave consequences of these totally undemocratic amendments and the gross violation of the rights of the Iraqi electorate.

“It seems as if the noisy verbal battles that accompanied the haggling during the past few weeks about linking the issue of Kirkuk to the election law were fabricated to cover up passing the above-mentioned measures with the votes of the MPs of dominant blocs, who were mobilized for the vote in an unprecedented manner.”

“The Parliament, in the first article of the law, cut down the number of compensatory seats, originally allocated to the lists that do not meet the electoral threshold at the provincial level but achieve it at the national level, from 45 in the original law to about 15 seats! And when we know that part of these seats will be allocated to quotas for some of the ethnic and religious minorities (8 seats), and for the deputies who would be elected by Iraqis living abroad who constitute more than 10 percent of Iraq’s population, we can see how this reduction is arbitrary and irresponsible. The seven or eight remaining seats will not be enough to cover even the votes abroad.”
“On the other hand, this reduction (of the number of compensatory seats) effectively usurps the right of the lists that achieve the national electoral threshold to gain representation in Parliament. This reveals the selfishness of most of the dominant blocs and their disregard of plurality and diversity in the Parliament, their quest to extend full control over Parliament and the whole of political power, monopolizing and carving it up among themselves, in contravention of democratic norms.”

“In Article 3 of the law, the big parliamentary blocs went much further in violating democracy and displaying blatant disregard for the voters. They have imposed, once again, giving the vacant seats to the top winning lists, rather than putting them – as obligated by democracy, logic and justice – at the disposal of the lists that attain the highest remaining votes. They have thus opened the door again to a repetition of the infamous experience in the provincial elections earlier this year, when the big blocs stole the votes of more than two and a quarter million people who had given their votes to other lists. This was used by those big blocs to grab additional seats in the provincial councils.”

“What arouses astonishment and indignation is that the dominant blocs are repeating the same behaviour (as in the provincial elections), despite all the manifestations of popular rejection, protests and condemnation, which such anti-democratic practice had met at the time. It is clear that they are doing the same thing today despite being fully aware that it contradicts the principles of the Constitution as well. They also do so in a predetermined manner and in defiance of the voters and their will, and of their constitutional right to choose whom they want to represent them in Parliament and other elected bodies.”

“The measures taken by the big blocs yesterday (9th November 2009) is a very serious phenomenon in the political and constitutional experience in our country, a heavy blow to the fledgling democracy, and an outright retreat from its course.

“This development runs against the expectation of national public opinion, which had been looking forward to a serious and positive move to rectify the deficiencies in the electoral law that had been in force until yesterday, in order to make it a democratic law that ensures wider participation of our people, especially the youth, a better embodiment of the principle of citizenship and the consolidation of national unity.

“It is our duty to warn against the immediate consequences of all this for the upcoming elections. It is well-known that the credibility of these elections could face a severe challenge due to the reluctance of a large proportion of voters, who are frustrated as a result of the policies of powerful blocs themselves, to go the ballot box. This probability is increasing today because the new law stipulates giving the vacant seats to the winning lists. The supporters of the other lists are wondering, and they are right to do so, what would be the point of their participation in the elections as long as their votes will go in the end, against their will, to the winning lists that they reject and do not want in any way to endorse.”

“For this reason too, as well as the points mentioned earlier, we call on the Presidency of the Republic, which is in charge of ensuring adherence to the Constitution, to overturn articles 1 and 3 of the election law that was approved yesterday, and to send them back to the Parliament in order to reconsider them and ensure they are grounded in a proper democratic context.”

“We also call upon the masses of our people and public opinion, civil society organizations and all those concerned for democracy and its future in Iraq, to reject the afore-mentioned articles and press for amending them so that law will be truly democratic, ensuring political pluralism and proper representation of all the Iraqi people.”

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