Tuesday, 4 October 2005

Iraqi voting hijinks

Nice to see the Iraqis learning how to play political language games in an effort to rig the outcome of the charter referendum next Saturday. The master himself, Bill Clinton, would be proud of these linguistic gymnastics:

Maryam Reyes, a member of the Shiite alliance that controls a majority of seats in the assembly, ... said the assembly members had not changed election law, but only clarified the meaning of the word “voters” in the relevant passage. The legal passage in question states: “The general referendum will be successful and the draft constitution ratified if a majority of voters in Iraq approve and if two-thirds of voters in three or more governorates do not reject it.”

In their vote on Sunday, the Shiite and Kurdish members interpreted the law as follows: the constitution will pass if a majority of ballots are cast for it; it will fail if two-thirds of registered voters in three or more provinces vote against it. In other words, the lawmakers designated two different meanings for the word “voters” in one passage.

Neither the U.S. or the U.N. seems particularly happy with this change; both accounts suggest the decision will be “reconsidered” in the next day or two, as well it ought to be.