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.

Wednesday, 5 October 2005

Less hijinks, more fulfilling

As anticipated, the Iraqi transitional assembly reversed its weekend rule change that critics (including yours truly) complained might rig the outcome of the vote on ratifying the Iraqi constitution next Saturday.

An Iraqi opinion poll reported by Reuters suggests that the constitution may meet with approval anyway, according to the director of the NGO that sponsored the poll:

Although support for the constitution was particularly high in the northern Kurdish areas and southern regions dominated by Shi’ites, [Mehdi] Hafedh said it topped 50 percent even in central provinces known as the heartland of Sunni unrest—a sign, he said, that the Sunni-Shi’ite split is not as wide as many fear.

“This is exaggerated by political elites who are seeking power and by Western media and analysts,” Mr. Hafedh said. “If you go down to the streets, you can’t tell who is Sunni and who is Shi’ite. We are all mixed.”

He said most opponents of the constitution cited reasons ranging from Iraq’s lack of sovereignty to poor security, while far fewer cited explicit political concerns over the document.

þ: InstaPundit for the latter article.