Date of Award
Josef Korbel School of International Studies
Paul R. Viotti, Ph.D.
Democracy, Electoral, Iraq, Political, Strategy, War
The challenges to stability, unity, and democracy in Iraq are typically characterized as factional (sectarian and ethnic) or as struggle against the presence of foreign troops. However, this assumption remains largely erroneous. The problems and challenges in Iraq are actually and overwhelmingly the result of power struggles, and the competition for resources by political elites, and dominant political factions.
The political and electoral system emplaced in Iraq incentivizes elites and political entities to undertake factional identities; in doing so, it promotes identity politics. The current system also fails to filter the contests for power through the electoral system. As such, fragmentation within the government is maximized, and the political system in Iraq becomes one that promotes extremism and incorporates extremist views, thus, creating paralysis and hindering progress.
Consequently, this study proposes redesigning the Iraqi electoral system in a way that compels elites to secure cross-factional support. Such an approach will force political elites and candidates to undertake median and moderate approaches to win and will promote moderate elites who must gain the support of the people. This will allow reconciliation efforts to progress steadily and will put Iraq on the right path for consolidating its nascent democracy. Vitally important, such a system will provide for democratic consolidation and sustainability without the need of external interference. The challenge, however, is in deciding how to introduce such an institutional redesign due to entrenched interests of parties and elites that are served under the current system.
The current political system in Iraq is parliamentarian; it follows the concept of infusion of powers and is based on "consensus" and informal consociation. The electoral system in Iraq is a closed-party-list proportional representation. This study proposes an alternative political and electoral system. As a substitute political system, this study proposes a hybrid system that largely follows the concept of separation of powers. Under this system the chief executive--as opposed to the head of state--will be directly elected by the people through a customized majoritarian system that conditions victory in elections not only on achieving 50+% of the vote, but also on achieving certain thresholds in 16 out of the 18 Iraqi provinces. Thus, only candidates who are acceptable to all the "components" of Iraqi society will assume the responsibility of governing Iraq.
The Presidency Council--the head of state--can follow the consociational principle, and remain as it is now. At present, the presidency council in Iraq--which will give over power to a President in the next elections--consists of a President and two Vice Presidents. The presidency council's members are representatives of the three major components of the Iraqi society--Shiite, Sunni, and, Kurd. This can remain unchanged, voted in by parliament. In fact, preserving this would check the strong Prime Minister proposed under this system. As such, transparency, accountability, decisiveness, and cohesion, will be combined with oversight.
As for elections to the legislature, this study proposes to convert the electoral rules to single-member districts. Districts must be delineated in such a way that candidates will largely compete against people of their own (sectarian or ethnic) identity. Hence, candidates will be unable to invoke their identities as credentials to win elections. Where possible, minorities in districts will be included so that serious candidates competing against others from their-own identity will be forced to appeal also to people other than their identities. This will further compel candidates to undertake moderate stands.
Essentially, the proposed system enhances the accountability of elected officials to the electorate; it promotes substantive politics rather than descriptive politics in Iraq; and it allows for the steady consolidation of democracy. The proposed system also maintains unity within the executive branch, and opens the way for reconciliation, reconstruction, the provision of services and security, and political stability.
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Derhagopian, Krikor P. Mosses, "Iraq: The Way Forward—a Political Strategy to Win & End the War in Iraq" (2009). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 158.
Received from ProQuest
Krikor P. Mosses Derhagopian