The following article was published by Reidar Visser, an historian of Iraq educated at the University of Oxford and currently based at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs. It is reproduced here with the author’s permission. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.
Late on Friday night, Iraq’s president, Jalal Talabani, broke his long silence on exactly what is going on with the request for a no confidence vote against the country’s embattled premier, Nuri al-Maliki.
For a “clarification”, Talabani’s latest announcement was relatively convoluted. Still, there is now at least a few more pieces of information available. Firstly, Talabani is aware that the signature collection does not form part of the constitutional procedure for a presidential call for a no confidence vote.
Good. Nonetheless, he has apparently asked for the signatures in advance in some kind of “intermediary” gesture to the opposing camps. His aim has probably been to establish whether there was basis for a no confidence vote to succeed.
In this more limited capacity – as an “opinion poll” if you will – the exercise is of course valid. It also has some interest for predicting the likely outcome of a vote in parliament. As said before, though, there are methodological issues here, relating in particular to the difference between collecting written signatures via email and actually having people come and vote in the parliament chamber.
This aspect is salient given the overall low attendance level in the Iraqi parliament. Additionally, there is of course the question of whether Talabani’s office is up to the best standards in terms of analyzing this material.