Iraqi Parties Circle Around Election Bill

By Laith Hammoudi of IWPR. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Jasim Mohammed is sick and tired of the current political set-up in Iraq, and is not sure whether he will even bother to vote in next year’s parliamentary election.

“I will participate in the 2014 election only if someone I trust is standing,” Mohammed, who heads an NGO in Baghdad, told IWPR. “I don’t feel that the people we voted in represent us.”

Mohammed says that if people like him like him carry on backing the same old parties and politicians, they will be opening the way for them to “plunder the nation’s wealth”.

He is not alone in his disillusionment with the democratic process. Ten years after Saddam Hussein was toppled, elected politicians are unable to stop the daily violence or deliver basic services like electricity and water.

Some believe the electoral system itself is to blame and needs to be amended. This month, the Iraqi parliament, the Council of Representatives, is to hold a vote on a revised electoral law. But some commentators fear the proposed changes could make things worse, not better.

The legislation envisages a return to the controversial system employed for polls in 2005 but dropped for the 2010 election. Called the “closed list”, it is a version of proportional representation where voters simply pick the party they favour, and its leader then decides who will take up the seats it has been allocated nationwide. The alternative, “open list” method would allow voters to go for named candidates and avoid anyone they do not like.

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