Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Michael: If you suspect you won't succeed, change, change the rules

In a moved calculated to ensure passage of the new Iraqi constitution, Shiite and Kurdish representatives adopted an interpretation of election rules under which the constitution will fail only if two-thirds of all registered voters - rather than two-thirds of all those actually casting ballots - reject it in at least three of the 18 provinces.

This is a stunningly cynical move. It essentially assigns two mutually exclusive meanings to the same term of Iraqi election law, depending entirely on the desired outcome. It also all but ensures civil war as the Sunnis now have no political process with which to block the adoption of a constitution that gives them no security.

I suppose I really shouldn't be surprised. After all, the Iraqis are supposed to be building a democracy based on our own model. Changing the rules when they don't favor your desired outcome is exactly what the GOP has done in Bush v. Gore, the move to kill the filibuster, DeLay holding roll call votes open for hours, the torture memos, and countless other occasions. If our own politicians engage in such fudging, why wouldn't Iraqi politicians also feel free to play only by the rules they make up as they go, and that ensure the exact outcomes they want?

UPDATE: The Iraqi Parlement reversed its bid to disenfranchise the Sunnis. The result will likely be that the new constitution will not be ratified and drafters will have to try again. Sometimes a step back can be a step forward.

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