December 16, 2004

More Rollback from Presumptive Sunni Boycotters

A few weeks back major media was full of stories of mega-Sunni boycotts of the impending elections in Iraq. Over here, we predicted many of the presumptive boycotters would end up playing ball. Here's more rollback which, of course, is good news vis-a-vis helping give the impending elections a greater imprimatur of legitimacy.

Also announcing his candidacy today was Adan Pachachi, an Iraqi elder statesman and prominent member of the country's long-dominant Sunni Muslim minority. Pachachi had previously joined more than a dozen other Sunni and secular groups in calling for the elections to be postponed and raising the prospect of a boycott if they went ahead as scheduled.

But today he announced the formation of a group called the Independent Democratic Gathering and unveiled an initial list of 70 candidates, including five ministers in the current interim cabinet.

In a news conference, Pachachi cautioned that his group may decide not to campaign if there is too much violence in Sunni areas west and north of Baghdad where it expects to draw most of its support, news agencies reported.

Pachachi's coalition is among 89 blocs, consisting of more than 230 political organizations, that are participating in the election for a 275-seat National Assembly, a body that will be charged with drafting a new constitution and appointing a government to replace Allawi's interim administration.

More than 230 political organizations! What a burst of political energy after the decades of cowed submission to Baathist totalitarianism. But all was better when the brutish Saddamite yoke prevailed, right? No, of course, if we finish the job and see this through. I continue to see the glass more half full than half empty over an approximately five year time horizon.

Posted by Gregory at December 16, 2004 02:16 AM

That's one you predicted right. Good call.

Posted by: praktike at December 16, 2004 03:09 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I echo the sentiment that you deserve credit for predicting this one. Now let's have a look at how the Shiites handle the dominant position they will assume post-January, should the Sunnis engage the process as they appear willing to do.

I think there is cause to be optimistic that Sistani will try to steer the ship of state, from a distance and indirectly of course, to a position of tolerance and respect for Sunni and Kurd alike - granting some measure of autonomy and religious accomodation. If he manages to do this, then there really is hope. If the Shiites overreach, or become religiously dogmatic, then chaos and/or fragmentation could ensue. That is the crucible.

Posted by: Eric Martin at December 16, 2004 05:22 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I for one would appreciate a projection of how the assembly might work, especially if voting, as appears likely from recent polls, is distributed on political lines rather than expressing ethnic group loyalty. Should we anticipate a fractious body in which alliances and caucuses ebb and flow, coalesce and break on a regular basis. Such a body will be all but paralytic. One thinks of the Italian post-war assemblies.

Does proportional representation play a significant role in the electoral process as planned?

Posted by: Dave F at December 16, 2004 08:13 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

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