Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Worries about the Iraq referendum

I've been busy lately and don't have much time now, either, but I wanted to say a quick word about the developments in Iraq.

How can the Shi'a and Kurdish blocs with a straight face define "voter" in two different ways? Changing the interpretation of the referendum law is a horrible decision. If before we were saying either way, at least the Sunni will participate, this is a way to tell them that their votes don't matter (let alone all the Shi'a and Kurds who might happen to not agree with the constitution). Two-thirds of registered voters is going to be pretty tough especially considering that many might not even turn out in some of the more violent provinces (even though we all agree turnout will go up, it probably won't go up that much).

To explain for those who do not know, what the National Assembly decided is that a majority of voters who actually vote (nationwide) is all that is necessary to ratify the constitution; while two-thirds of registered voters in three provinces are needed to reject it.

So basically this is a blatant attempt by the dominant factions to prevent the constitution from being rejected at all costs. This decision undercuts the political efforts to integrate opposition, particularly Sunni opposition. Fortunately the UN has rejected the idea outright and the bloggers at Iraq the Model were good enough to be quite worried about it as well, though I haven't heard anything from the U.S. government as yet (admittedly I may have missed it).

The most important thing above all, is that everyone feels the October referendum means something. If it doesn't, the best opportunity has been lost.

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