By: Ali al-Talakani
Annabaa Forum for Dialogue discussed a topic under the heading (The Iraqi elections and Sainte-Lague Method), during the period 4-8 June, 2017.
A number of activists and politicians took part, including MP Tafga Ahmed Mirza, Dr. Bushra Zuwaini, Civil Activist Sa'eed Yassin, Dr. Khalid Hantoush (Baghdad), Dr. Ahmed al-Mayali (Baghdad University), Jawad al-Attar, MP Abdul Hadi Mohan al-Sa'dawi, MP Abdul Abbas al-Shya', Dr. Bashar al-Sa'idi and MP Shorouq al-Abayachi.
The Forum was run by the writer and journalist Ali al-Talikani (Director of the Forum) and Dr. Dhirgham Kiko, Professor of Public Law.
Annabaa Forum for Dialogue is a community aims at stimulating discussions to bring out the ideas to support governmental establishments and non-governmental organizations, as well as providing consultancy through its activities.
The preliminary discussion welcomed the voting for 21 items of the Provincial Law by the Iraqi Parliament, which adopted Sainte-Lague Method for 1, 9 votes mechanism for the electoral lists that will participate in the coming elections.
There are many questions in this regard:
Will Sainte-Lague Method, with this ratio, achieve justice?
Will the electoral lists, which do not belong to the ruling party, have a share in the seats?
Can the independent personalities have a separate list and be able to win according to Sainte-Lague Method which was adopted by the Iraqi Parliament?
Dr. Bushra Zuwaini
Sainte-Lague Method 1. achieves the minimum limit. We aspire for a method that will achieve justice, not to obscure 10.000 votes for a certain candidate who will win by 500 votes.
It is not only today that the Iraqi Parliament is in living in a valley and the people are in another one. This gap is the reason for the failure of the Iraqi Parliament for implementing its role as the representative of the Iraqi people.
There is an important matter. All those who reject the ratio 1,9 is a believer, if they wish or not, in the allocation of posts.
We have lived through political blackmailing and control of the provinces as well as creating a state of instability because of blocs that gained two seats out of 30 in the provincial council. Bargaining was made in the public. The formation of the government was delayed and conditions of instability and conflict continued for the last past four years till now.
The move to insert the small blocs within the map of forming governments in the coming stage is a call for continued instability of the political situation and opening the doors for blackmailing and allocation of posts in the worst forms available.
There is a point to raise:
In this method, we will have half of the seats of the previous provincial councils, which means that we will have more line ups that will worsen the situation in all directions. The Sainte-Lague Method is a mathematical method based on the division on one.
This method assumes the results that represent the voter and any changes will spoil the expected results. Everyone knows that this amendment meant to keep the powerful elements, which is contrary to the clauses of the constitution that demanded direct voting within the framework of democracy that wanted the participation of all. The result will be that the Will of the voter will not be attained and his representative will not win, thus the door is closed before change and reforms, as well as wasting great number of votes.
Mr. Shirwan al-Wa'ili, President's Advisor
The current arguments are connected with the emergence of new blocs in the provincial councils or the parliament itself, when we minimize the figures to reach 1,4, for instance. In other words, the big blocs will blackmail the councils and worry the government. If we assume this, I will say it is right.
Why the bigger blocs do not reach agreements and neglect the new born blocs?
Who is the decision maker since 2003? The bigger blocs are controlling the scene due to their agreements and interests and needs.
In addition, when the political reform we aspire to and the political development that we hope to, will be attained with the presence of the big sharks that eat all before them?
Dr. Ahmed al-Mayali, University of Baghdad
The adoption of Sainte-Lague Method in its amended form reflects a negative case connected with the principle, not the result. Most of the candidates will not be able to achieve the electoral denominator. Only 30 or 40 candidate will reach to the platform of the parliament, thus it is necessary to legislate an electoral law that will meet the needs of the Iraqi voter in relation to him limited choices to elect the political and religious figures. This is logical and we should admit it. As for the elites and the independent candidate, there is a possibility of having certain clauses in the law for them to adjust their winning, particularly when they do not have popular bases, like to be chosen by the head of the list or the owner of the greater votes in the bloc, but taking into consideration the females' quota and the minorities, as well.
MP Abdul Hadi Mohan al-Sa'dawi
Sainte-Lague Method is one of the methods which were abandoned by the international community for the last 50 years, but Iraq has become a field of experiments since 2003 till now.
The adoption of this method or others will do injustice for big and small blocs. All over the world, there is no parliamentary system having the names of big or small blocs or female quota, except we find that in Iraq only, because it is a newly born state in regard to the parliamentary system.
I read some of the objections voiced by some politicians, critics and some personalities which have no great presence in the Iraqi public opinion, but they demanded the change of this system because it serves only the bigger blocs.
I would like to compare the results of this method with the Election Law of 2013, which brought small blocs that have no common goals but to get posts and gains, not to serve their provinces.
I wonder if it is reasonable to reach the state where the weak will be governed by the strong! In other words, is it reasonable that 5 MPs with small blocs can control the will of the state and neglect the will of the Iraqi people which elected the big blocs?
The determination of the big or small blocs is to be done by the Iraqi citizen, as the owner of the decision, not the elections' law.
The independent personalities on the small blocs could join together in an alliance and participate in the elections instead of charging the bigger parties of hegemony and authoritarianism.
Finally, I would like to say that I worked in the legislative field since 2004 till now at the municipality councils, including two terms in Thi Qar Provincial Council till my post now as member of the Iraqi parliament. I do say that anyone who wants to form governments in the provinces or the federal government from small blocs is fanciful, because anyone of them wants to keep the system of allocating the posts and partnership, which brought no good to Iraq during the past 13 years.
MP Tafga Ahmed Mirza
There is another opinion, which it is to internationalize the question and put the province under international custody, as a procedure better than cutting it off from Iraq and annex it to Kurdistan.
All these topics, branches and solutions shall be open without any tangible development for the public interest, the interests of the components and for Kirkuk people, in particular.
When can the political parties, with all their components, cross sectarianism and build the state of institutions and the state of citizenship, then we may find a solution that will satisfy all and the rights will be restored to all.