With the launch earlier this month of campaigns for the April 30 parliamentary elections, Iraq is back to debating the fact that none of the political blocs has put forward an electoral program or platform. The blocs, misunderstanding the concept of a political program, have instead reduced them to vague slogans.
The Iraqi political forces competing in the elections justify the absence of real programs by asserting that Iraq remains in transition, so there are real differences over the basis of the political process — such as the Constitution, government formation, the decision-making process and the relationship between the central government and the provinces and the regions.
They claim that this reality forces them to take positions on these particular issues, rather than presenting political programs. For example, some campaigns are sloganeering on amending the Constitution, while others' slogans invoke government formation by the political majority, decentralization and the war on terror.
Being in a transitional phase and disagreeing over political fundamentals do not, however, justify lacking an economic or development program or taking positions on such issues as housing, health, education, human development, and human rights and freedoms.
To be fair, a few political forces such as the Supreme Islamic Council have presented detailed programs, but the problem is then that the Iraqi voter is faced with a choice between a detailed program and lots of attractive slogans.