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Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Iraqi constitution vote "a farce"

Iraq's momentous October 15 vote on their constitution has passed with an enormous 78% majority:

Iraq's constitution was adopted by a majority in a fair vote during the Oct. 15 referendum, as Sunni Arab opponents failed to muster enough support to defeat it, election officials said Tuesday. A prominent Sunni politician called the balloting "a farce."

It is assumed that Sunnis don't accept results of less than a 100% majority on a 100% turn-out, as was the norm pre-2003.

Posted by Rob Huck on October 25, 2005 | Permalink


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"It is assumed that Sunnis don't accept results of less than a 100% majority on a 100% turn-out, as was the norm pre-2003."


Posted by: shawn | 2005-10-25 2:48:42 PM

I've seen one Canadian columnist make a very similar claim, using very similar language: Scott Taylor in yesterday's Halifax Chronicle-Herald, said the constitutional vote was just as legitimate as one of Saddam's 100%/100% votes. No link; it's not on their website and it's pretty vomit-inducing besides.

Posted by: Ian in NS | 2005-10-25 3:40:31 PM

It seems to me that the Iraqi constitution was carried out properly - from start to finish. That includes its development, which required negotiation by all three major tribes involved; that includes its voting, which accepted that IF the Sunni areas rejected it- it wouldn't pass.

Note that this was developed and written by and for the Iraqi people. They ought to be congratulated. But many in the West, who are anti-American and anti-Bush, have hoped that the Iraqi people will fail. Can you imagine- they are actually wishing harm to the Iraqi people - because of their irrelevant hatred for Americans and for Bush!!!

By the way - we all know that 20% of Canada, an area with a population of over 7 million, has rejected the Canadian constitution. Quebec has never agreed to it and has never signed it.

And we sure never went through the enormous negotiations and discussions and referendum for our constitution that the Iraqi people have undergone. Who is the more democratic??

Posted by: ET | 2005-10-25 4:22:38 PM

Except the Sunni weren't represented by what they considered their legitimate representatives, since they don't have any -- in a democratic sense. Hence the eroneous perception in the Sunni areas that the constitution is somehow against them. Hence the problem of a widening sectarian divide. Hence the continued violence and the proliferation of ethnic militias, which seem to have taken over the police.

A main complaint of Iraqis has been western meddling in the constitution.

Serious accusations of fraud have attatched themselves to the referendum. Nobody is claiming the result is thus invalidated, but it hardly helps Sunni moderates convince their co-religionists that they have a place in the New Iraq. Which has been the major problem the country faces.

Do you pay attention to anything?

Posted by: Blah Blah Blah | 2005-10-25 4:36:04 PM

Sure do. That's why we know the election was legitamate.

Posted by: Me | 2005-10-25 4:56:46 PM

Blah Blah,
Hmm, even though the Sunni's CHOSE to boycott the January elections and didn't run any candidates, they were still asked to help write the constitution! The fact that they VOTED in this referendum gives it legitimacy. The constitution is not against them because they helped to write it. What they fear is their loss of power, because this minority was controlling things under Sadam (they formed the main political arm of the Baathists.) They are also the main supporters of the foreign terrorists in Iraq who are mainly from Syria and Jordan. The Sunnis claim fraud only to sow discord and hurt the U.S. effort to bring democracy. Sunnis don't want democracy because then they lose power.

Do you pay attention to anything besides lefty talking points?

Posted by: CanRev | 2005-10-26 3:31:36 AM

Let's look at how the referendum is playing out.

Sunni Arabs seem to have overwhelmingly rejected the constitution. You might not like them but they remain a pretty important part of Iraq's make-up.

96.90 percent of voters in Sunni-dominated Anbar were against,
81.75 percent in Sunni-dominated Salahuddin, 55.08 percent in mixed Nineveh,
48.73 percent in mixed Diyala,
37.09 percent in mixed Kirkuk

But it will go into effect anyway. Trouble.

Then there is the small problem of fraud.

It is impossible to know if fraud caused the result. However, Sunnis voted against the constitution and the constitution has been approved anyway. That they know. That there was signigicant faud in the election is well known by all. Why wouldn't the more paranoid Sunnis conclude that they got screwed. That the U.S. government, the Shiites, and the Kurds are conspiring against them.

A propaganda victory has been handed to the insurgents. This will get uglier.

It's not rational but what aspect of the insurgency has been rational?

Posted by: Herstory Dude | 2005-10-26 9:08:50 AM

I was in Iraq for the referendum. It was a farce.

The problem with the constitution was that in order to take the wind out of the Sunni nationalist guerillas sails concensus was required not a simple majority vote. The last minute endorsment of the consitution by the Islamic Party (the major Sunni party)caused widespread confusion. Many Sunnis saw the current consititution as only a temporary measure until the election in December. Many Shias believe the government has only agreed to consider amendments. Very few people thought they knew what they were voting for, most knew they didn't know what they were voting for, only how their mullah told them to vote. It's easy to see that this will lead to more violence not less as Sunnis who were on the fence come down on the insurgents side as it becomes clear that they have no chance of stopping the breakup of the country without forcing the Shias and Kurds to negotiate through violence.

The best thing that could have happened was a "no" vote that would have shown the Sunnis that they had a say using the ballot, followed by negotiations (perhaps taking years)in good faith after a general election. The rush to pass the constitution will have the unintended consequence of intensifying the Sunni nationalist revolt.

Posted by: Michael Shannon | 2005-10-26 11:24:20 AM

It's not an issue whether or not I "like" the Sunnis. No matter the preliminary process of creating the constitutional document and the ways upon which it was voted, the fact of the matter is, there would have been problems no matter the means. That's politics, that's life.

My comment was with regards to a Sunni commentator, who would have had no way to comment upon the egregious electioneering under the Ba'athist regime, outright declares a much more plausible election result a "farce" when only a few years before his own people were subjecting a majority to a fascist servitude.

But that's not the main issue either. What is important is how magnamimous the Shiites and Kurds will be their victory to procur a federalist system, which concessions will be made to ensure that Sunnis will remain secure in the knowledge that their rights will not be trampled on, that retribution will not be the order of the day when the American-led forces finally leave Mesopotamia.

In other words, what will decide the future of Iraq is how the various different ethnic groups attempt to accept the results of a democratic process without taking advantage of those who voted the other way. It's a bold experiment, one which must be played out in order to delegitimize the insurgency within the Sunni triangle.

These next few months will be critical: either the Sunnis accept the democratic process and the other ethnic groups reward their loyalty to their country with, say, oil royalty concessions and the like, or; the insurgency will be fueled through the words and actions of Sunni leaders who have not yet learned that democracy will not always favour their expressed desire.

Posted by: Huck | 2005-10-26 11:34:05 AM

Obviously the situation is better now than it had been under Saddam. The question is how to take the wind out of the insurgency's sails.

How much choice did the Bush Administration have with the timing? Didn't Sistani demand elections? And once he did they couldn't really refuse.

Doesn't the constitution divvy up the oil wealth fairly equally? Mainly to calm the Sunni. It's only future finds that will belong soley to one province and/or group?

I guess if nobody knows what's in the thing it doesn't really matter.

Posted by: Histroy Dude | 2005-10-26 12:52:19 PM

Again, one of the best ways to "take the wind out of the insurgency's sails" is to continue holding elections on key issues, giving the citizen a feel like he or she has a say in their country's future. If they are given more than one option to affect the direction of their government, they will simultaneously choose between influencing through the ballot box or through the RPG. Only when the idea that these elections are fraudulent will the people fall back towards violent unrest as a means to change.

Free elections do not necessarly a democracy make, but they are an important ritual for their participants. Regardless of whether the Bush administration affected the "timing", what matter is that people ave voted, their votes are being counted, and the vote count will affect the outcome. As long as this perception is continued, democracy will move forward and the insurgency will suffer.

It's a learning process and it will take time to catch on. I have faith that the Iraqi people will eventually get this. What I don't have faith in is how much patience we in the Free World can muster while this happens.

Posted by: Huck | 2005-10-26 1:23:23 PM

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