Iraq and Gulf Analysis

A Closed Assembly Will Produce a Closed List

Posted by Reidar Visser on Friday, 16 October 2009 0:03

[UPDATE 19 October 15:55 CET: It has just been announced that the Iraqi parliament has postponed voting on the elections law until Tuesday 20 October]

The Iraqi parliament has adjourned again for the weekend, ignoring the demand from the Iraqi elections commission for a legal framework for the next parliamentary elections by today’s deadline. That deadline in turn reflected the time needed to make practical preparations for elections to be held on 16 January 2010, the day singled out by the Iraqi federal supreme court as the last possible date for holding new elections within the constitutional framework. For now, there is talk about resuming the debate when parliament reconvenes on Sunday, with a possible vote on Monday.

What is going on here is political theatre of the most despicable kind. In reality, there is general agreement on the broad outline of an elections law with open lists, governorate-level constituencies and proportional representation, with only one real issue of disagreement – what to do with Kirkuk. Many parliamentarians want special arrangements for Kirkuk since it is the only Iraqi governorate where there are allegations of widespread manipulation of the demographic balance in the post-2003 period with the specific aim of changing the political status of the governorate; conversely the two biggest Kurdish parties (the alleged perpetrators of the manipulations) reject this. However, even in this thorny area, a window for compromise has materialised recently through the emergence of at least two constructive compromise solutions. One involves going back to the 2004 voting registers; another the appointment of a committee to scrutinise the existing lists of voters. Either solution would recognise Kirkuk as a special case, but, importantly, without embracing the previous maximalist demands of the opposing factions.

There is however another serious problem. Many of the biggest parties secretly want to keep a closed-list system instead of the new arrangements adopted in the latest provincial elections, so-called open lists. The difference between the two should be noted. It is not, as one of the biggest US newspapers recently suggested, that voters don’t know the names of the candidates on the closed list “for security reasons”! That is misleading:  Candidate names are known to voters under either system and voters can find the names not only of the candidate but also his or her father, grandfather and great-grandfather in publicly available registers. The closedness has to do with the ability of voters to rank the candidates. Under the closed list, this is decided by the parties whereas under the open list voters can promote favourites of their own, even if the party gave them a less prominent position far down on the list. The introduction of this system proved universally popular in the latest provincial elections and the new device was widely used by Iraqis (who promoted many local councillors from non-winning positions), quite regardless of the fact that the Iraqi electoral commission in practice undermined the system by not printing full candidate lists (voters instead had to use tables of correspondence on display in the polling stations). On the other hand, the established parties and politicians are worried about the new system – above all for fear of being deselected.

The only parties that publicly support the closed-list system are the two biggest Kurdish ones. Their formal justification for doing so is the idea that it enhances female representation, which in theory is at greater risk under an open-list system (parties include women on the list according to the quota criteria but voters tend to promote men).  In reality, however, this is mitigated by other quota mechanisms in the existing law at the macro level of seat distribution (apparently including a new element demanding a minimum of three persons on the list, thereby excluding male-only one-person entities); hence in practice the main impact of the closed list is to make it easier for political parties to override voter preferences by nominating loyal female representatives in the noble name of gender equality. In the past, the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI) also favoured this system, but they have been forced to change their position gradually after the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani began signalling his preference for the open list in July. Finally, the sometimes-heard argument that out-of-country voting requires closed lists and a single electoral constituency is also inaccurate; in fact voting abroad took place in December 2005 (when multiple, governorate-level constituencies were in force) and the problem was solved by pooling the exiled votes for the compensatory “national” seats that are not tied to any particular governorate.

As a result of this development, for the past couple of weeks Iraqi political parties have been trying to outbid each other in a deafening shouting match in support of the open list: Al-qaema al-maftoooohhhha!! It has turned into something of a popular demand with demonstrations across Iraq (the Iraqi Constitutional Party has been particularly prominent), and Sadrists have been spearheading demands for greater transparency with regard to how the parliament treats the issue, including a call from Maha al-Duri for a record of individual votes, protests about electronic voting and demands for a televised transmission of the decisive session to the Iraqi public. The theatrical aspect of this is of course that in reality there is no public opposition to open lists and hence no need for demonstrations. No non-Kurdish party can afford to vote against the open list, and they probably won’t do it either. In fact, even the Kurds have made it clear that although they opposite the open list, it is not a red line (meaning they will not use the presidency to shoot down an election law solely with reference to the list system). But despite this tacit consensus, Iraqi politicians keep pretending the open list is a real issue, turning into a quasi-debate and a pretext for procrastinations while no progress is being made on the only real issue of serious disagreement that exists – Kirkuk. Steadily, the 15 October deadline has gotten closer and closer but parliament has taken a studiously lackadaisical approach, in practice allowing the question of list structure to develop into a trap in which the progressive forces are wasting all their energy. Everyone knows that if no new legislation is passed, the old law from 2005 with the old system of closed lists will be used.

Additionally, there are a host of very minor technical issues that can be relied upon for creating hiccups in case there is no appetite for using a last-minute drama over Kirkuk to kill the new law. Predictably, of course, Iraqi parliamentarians have known about these for months but have consistently neglected them. The fact is that the legal committee of the parliament had readied a draft in July which then came back from the cabinet in September, with Kirkuk as the only major unresolved issue. Nevertheless, two days ago, the legal committee in parliament was flooded with suggestions for modifications of minor points of detail that can only serve as distractions in the final stages of the process. For example, it has been agreed to increase the number of seats from 275 to 310, but some now want to backtrack on that number citing lack of reliable statistics (the Iraqi constitution specifies a demographic ratio for the number of representatives and the increase supposedly reflects population growth). Related to this, the distribution between governorates may typically create minor spats – particularly controversial is the marked increase of Nineveh’s representation, a move perceived by the Kurdish parties as having an anti-Kurdish edge. There are also disagreements concerning the finer details of seat distribution within the general proportional representation (PR) framework, with some calling for formulas that would improve representation for parties that do well nationally but fail to win seats at the governorate level, and the Kurds and the Iraqi Communist Party still calling for a single electoral district for the entire country. (Interestingly, the “Change” list of the Kurds has adopted the majority view of the non-Kurdish parties on list type (open) and election district size (governorate-based), two key issues.) Finally some still want to bicker about candidate age (the draft reportedly has 30 years), and there is the issue of minority seats (currently given as five for the Christians, and one each for Sabaeans, Yazidis and Shabak) which at one point came close to torpedoing last year’s provincial elections law and could come up again.

On top of this, there are at least two parallel issues that continue to complicate the overall picture, if more marginally so. One is the demand for a political-party law, a pet project of the opposition that defines itself in nationalist terms and aimed at putting a focus on Islamist parties that allegedly receive their funding from Iran (presumably though there is also a good deal of financial support from Arab states that would be affected by this). Predictably, perhaps, no revised draft seems to be forthcoming from the government, and it is now probably unrealistic to hope for one to materialise in the near future. Nevertheless, some parliamentarians like to highlight this as a more fundamental issue and may be reluctant to engage in points of detail on the elections law itself as long as there is no progress on what is seen as an “overarching” issue of a  law for political parties. Similarly, the status of the Iraqi elections commission itself has come under increasing scrutiny. The committee chairman, Faraj al-Haydari, used to be a member of the KDP political leadership and has in the past been accused of pro-KDP bias; more recently however the attacks on the commission seem to have reflected disputes of intra-Shiite origin related to the new coalition-forming process, with the Hakim camp and Fadila apparently leading the attack against the commission and Maliki and some of the independent Shiite Islamists close to him defending it. Some may perhaps see this state of affairs as an opportunity for a more radical shakeup of the whole system in Iraq; they should however note that it would probably be unrealistic to hope for international support. UNAMI seems to be at pains to keep the current commission in office, going as far as to warn publicly earlier this week that a failure to do so would delay the elections – something which in turn would create major problems for the Obama administration.

What needs to be realised is that much of this, especially the questions that relate to the elections law itself, are really details in the bigger picture. The finer points of distribution mechanisms within an overall proportional representation framework are the stuff of many a political science career, and it is perfectly possible to debate these issues for years if desired. But one could also choose to focus on the fact that Iraq has already agreed on the largest remainders methods, compensations seats (as a principle at least) and no minimum thresholds for calculating seats, thereby creating an extremely permissive proportional system in comparative perspective, regardless of which particular counting procedures are agreed on. As for the nationalists who remain critical of the system of government defined in 2005, it may perhaps be time to try to take a very pragmatic approach, even if it is possible to identify numerous weaknesses related to a process that does not have legislation on party finances and whose elections commission is not seen to be entirely above party politics. On the other hand, though, the general political climate in Iraq is moving away from sectarianism in the Arab-dominated parts and away from two-party dominance in Kurdistan. That momentum in itself should suffice  to make more Iraqis abandon their lofty orthodoxies and instead engage in the political process (and the attendant possibilities for system reform). One could of course go on forever trying to create an ever more perfect atmosphere for the election, but at a certain point the act of having a poll in itself becomes valuable. (One caveat to this: some drafts of the electoral law have circulated without explicitly mentioning Iraqis abroad, only internally displaced. Even the elections law of 2005 provides for out-of-country voting and hopefully the reason for the omission is simply a matter of oversight in a chaotic draft in which several alternative PR counting mechanisms muddied the picture considerably.)

In other words, Iraqi politicians should get on with it. There is not a single remaining conflict in the elections law that is significant enough to justify a general non possumus attitude and the all too predictable shrugged shoulders and rolled eyes when the process at some point breaks down. It is after all possible to vote article by article before a consensus is reached on the whole package; this was achieved with the provincial powers law and the provincial elections law in 2008 and could be done again. There is of course the problem that according to the Kurdish Islamist politician Sami al-Atrushi, the Kurds will “reject” a vote on different alternatives for Kirkuk, presumably by storming out of the assembly as they have done on several previous occasions. However, there really is no reason why that threat should prevent a vote; after all the checks and balances in the current consociational incarnation of Iraq’s democracy are vested in the presidential veto and not in any demand for a pre-vote consensus in the assembly itself. If President Jalal Talabani really thinks it is worth derailing the elections in order to avoid a compromise on Kirkuk (which after all just involves an extra tier of scrutiny and vigilance in terms of elections monitoring), then by all means let him do so but let it be in full public and with the international community as a witness.

Earlier in the week, Hamid Majid Musa of the communist party exemplified the problem when he complained that his proposals to the legal committee to change the size of the electoral district were not taken seriously enough. He then went on to declare that the elections will not be held on time if parliamentary deliberations go on indefinitely! Precisely.  Why did Iraqi parliamentarians, after having just returned from a mostly unproductive Ramadan season, go on holiday again on 6 October, without reconvening again until 13 October? Why do the sessions of the parliament normally last for just a couple of hours around midday? Why is the assembly often half full, with some representatives away from the assembly for most of the time? Alas, absent some kind of miracle, the only remaining excitement related to the elections law now seems to be the guessing game of which particular issue  in the end will blow up “unexpectedly” to derail a deal and thereby force Iraq to use the old, closed-list system from 2005 – and which unfortunate individual will get the delicate task of calling it a day and making this fact known to the Iraqi public.

Among the least glorious accomplishments in the half-finished revision of the Iraqi constitution is the following little item:

Original text:

“The sessions of the parliament are public”.

Revised text:

“The sessions of the parliament are public, unless the parliament decides otherwise”.

Iraq is a democracy. Unless its leaders decide otherwise.

29 Responses to “A Closed Assembly Will Produce a Closed List”

  1. Tim said

    So if the debate goes beyond Sunday and there isn’t a vote on Monday, what implications does that have for the 16 Jan date? Would there be an attempt at getting a delay against the court’s advice or would the election go ahead with closed lists? Obviously, neither are good options in the eyes of the international community; but on which side would international pressure come down?

  2. Al-daraji said

    “Iraq is a democracy, unless it’s leaders decide otherwise.”… For our bad luck, this is true.

  3. Reidar Visser said

    Iraqi politicians say a couple of days shouldn’t make a big difference. The problem is that it can easily drag on forever. My research focuses less on what players in the international community think, but I would say the statements from UNAMI so far have been rather emphatic in stressing the need to avoid delays. I also have the impression that “reminders” about the need to hold the elections on time were part of the message from Joe Biden during his latest visit. Even in Afghanistan, there seems to be growing consensus on some kind of muddle-through approach these days.

  4. bb said

    R, could you clarify what the “2004 voting registers” are/were? My recollection is that the Jan 05 election register was based on the saddam-era ration cards? And that the ration cards continued to be the basis of the constitutional vote and the Dec 05 election, although there was some extra voter registration in the August of that year?

  5. Reidar Visser said

    As I understand it, the principal complaint concerns alleged additions of unusually large numbers of voters to the registers during the course of the year 2005 (i.e. after the new provincial councils had been established following the January elections and before the December elections.)

  6. Sam said

    Reidar, did you ever get a read on whether they intend to make the “compensatory seats” into a mechanism to provide hyper-representation for small parties that did not win seats in the primary allotment? That is what the term “compensatory seats” sounds like. But if they use they use December 2005 formula, the mechanism referred to as “compensatory seats” actually does the opposite: it allots these seats according to national level percentages, i.e. if Maliki gets 20% of the national vote, he gets 20% of the compensatory seats.

  7. Reidar Visser said

    Sam, in the draft dated 7 July there are two alternatives on the so-called compensation seats (they use the term ta’widiyya). 1. “The compensational seats are distributed to the winning lists on the basis of the largest remainders.” 2.”The compensational seats are distributed as follows: a.) The total of votes won by each entity is divided by the “national average” in order to find how many seats it won. b.) The distribution of compensational seats starts with the entitites that did not win representation at the level of the constituency but did achieve the national average level of representation. c.) The rest of the seats are distributed to the entities that obtained representation in the constituencies based on their share of the total votes.”

    Presumably the “national average” is the total number of valid votes divided by available seats.

    The second alternative seems to be more or less similar to the old law of 2005, and does at least involve a certain degree of redistribution towards greater proportionality in the first step of the process. As far as I can see, the first alternative favours the bigger parties more strongly, as “winning lists” presumably refers to those that already won at the governorate level.

    Ali al Dabbagh gave details of the revised draft on 12 September 2009 but in the report that I have seen, it does not say which alternative is preferred by the government, though it may well be the first one.

  8. bb said

    Thanks R, but I understand what the complaints are.

    My question was to the “2004 voting registers” as in:

    “However, even in this thorny area, a window for compromise has materialised recently through the emergence of at least two constructive compromise solutions. One involves going back to the 2004 voting registers; …

    What were/are the 2004 voting registers? Are they the records of the Saddam-era ration card system?

  9. Reidar Visser said

    BB, I see your point now. Well, the system originated obviously in the 1990s, but it was updated after 2003 and used as a basis for the elections registers. Kurds who moved backed to Kirkuk in 2003 and 2004 were included, as were many who claimed to have live there (but at that point lived elsewhere). Just to give an example, a CSM story from early December 2004 states, “in the months leading up to Iraq’s Jan. 30 elections, thousands of Kurds originally from Kirkuk have virtually ‘moved’ back here by switching their registration cards from the places where they actually live.”

    That is precisely what makes this into a compromise: The non-Kurds give up some of their demands and choose instead to recognise Kurdish immigration in the period 2003-2004 as reflected in the registers, while at the same time asking for the accelerated wave of immigrants post-2005 to be treated on a different basis.

  10. Salah said

    Reidar, Two things if you can answer please.

    – What make al-Sistani began to signalling his preference for the open list in July.?

    As an Iraqi Analysis what your thoughts about al-Sistani and his involvements in Iraqi politics while he or what been known that he distance himself from in Waliyat al-faqih and politics?.

  11. Salah said

    الى ذلك أكد رئيس المفوضية العليا المستقلة للانتخابات فرج الحيدري: أن “عدم توصل مجلس النواب إلى إقرار قانون جديد للانتخابات سيرغم المفوضية على اعتماد القانون القديم”.
    واضاف امين بحسب موقع الجبهة: أن هناك خللا واضحا بحيث لا يستطيع احد الركون لمثل هذه المفوضية في تمرير أو تسيير عملية ديمقراطية كبيرة مثل عملية انتخابات مجلس النواب.
    وبهذا الشان قال عضو مجلس النواب عن جبهة التوافق محمد أمين عثمان: لابد من إجراء تعديلات وإجراء تغييرات على المفوضية العليا خصوصا بعد تقديم الادلة على وجود خلل في أداءها وأن هناك إهمالا وتزويرا.وتابع أمين: نحن لا نقصد أشخاصا معينين في المفوضية لكن ظهرت لنا وثائق وأدلة تشير إلى أن المفوضية لم تكن بالمستوى المطلوب لانتخاب أعلى سلطة في البلد وهو مجلس النواب.وأضاف الحيدري بحسب ” راديو سوا”

    http://almadapaper.net/news.php?action=view&id=1967

  12. bb said

    Thanks, I get it now. But am still perplexed. In every account I ever read at the time it was stated that the voting register for Jan 05 was based on the Saddam era ration cards. The IEMI report on the Dec 05 elections says the “voter register (for Dec 05) was based on the Public Distribution System data base of Jan 05.”?

    So I guess it is this data base you are referring to when you say “2004 voting register”?

  13. Reidar Visser said

    Salah, my interpretation of Sistani/wilayat al-faqih is that he belives in supreme clerical authority but not in the shape of an institutionalised office. Hence neither quietist nor Khomeinist. I have elaborated on this in a paper available here: http://www.historiae.org/sistani.asp
    The calls for an open list from the Sistani camp began in late July. I think they are another indication that Sistani is fed up with the attempts by the political parties and ISCI in particular to create the impression that they enjoy special support from him.

    To the report in al-Mada, I find it interesting that Taha Diraa, who is now closer to Hakim than to Maliki, is also calling for Haydari to be dismissed.

    BB, we need to remember that those ration cards are still in use today! There are after all many things in Iraq that were so important to daily life that even Paul Bremer could not erase them. In the absence of a proper census, the records that originated with this system remain central to public sector administration in Iraq.

    I think the term “Saddam era ration card” – which I assume may come across as somewhat suspect and dirty to proponents of greater transparency and democratisation generally – is just one of those media clichés that have become widespread more because of their catchiness and the feel-good factor they create among readers of Western mainstream media than because of any strong correlation to realities on the ground in Iraq. Other examples include “Iraq’s fractious ethnic” (17,400 Google hits) and “Iraq was cobbled” (9,400 hits).

  14. bb said

    Reidar, I am not trying to be perjorative about the Saddam-era ration cards! In fact I always thought issuing of minimum rations was one of the good things about that era! Used the term solely because that was the shorthand I read in 2005. The IMIE uses the correct term, I assume, which is “Public Distribution System.”

    I just wanted to clarify what you meant by the “2004 voting registers”, in particular because I hadn’t come across that term before and am v interested in any compromise proposals advanced for Kirkuk which do not involve pre-set quotas.

    In reading the IMIE report on the Constitutional election, it says that in the run up a voter registration drive was conducted in August 05, which added about 8 percent to the (distribution system) rolls nationwide. It also says that about 81,000 new registrations in Tamim province were challenged and nullified by the Iraq election commission. Presumably these voters did not vote in the constitutional referendum, but apparantly by December 2005 a number had been reinstated and the IEMI was mildly critical of this in its report?

    The use of the public distribution system was really a quite brilliant solution to getting those elections up by the beginning of 2005 in a way most Iraqis would percieve as legitimate. The better compromise for Tamim might be the rolls for the constitutional vote which excluded the 81,000. This would be better than defaulting to the Dec 05 register and infinitely better than the Iraqis in Tamim being denied their vote as they were in the provincial elections.

    Anyway, I hope this clears things up and am sorry that my obsession with the Iraqi electoral system has caused me to be so pedantic!

  15. Salah said

    I think now the important issue is not Closed or Open List, the problem is the corruptions/ Frauds with The Independent High Electoral Commission.

    There are a lot of noise this commission had a lot to do to prove its cridbilty next election.

    If afganistan election predicted there is fraud and rigging before it hold with UN represnetive which prized man Peter Galbraith then turned he is corrupted man there is more posibility Iraq will worse that afganistan.

    The noise of Close/Open lists timed to interfere with voices that calling to abolishment of The Independent High Electoral Commission for its corruptions. it’s just timing to cover-up, there is no time to do all things all gain.

    May be good to read here about what level of corruptions in the political structure with Iraq now.

    As US troops withdraw from Iraq, they leave behind the remnants of failed reconstruction efforts and a highly corrupt political class. Clean and efficient Iraqi institutions built from the bottom up are needed to fill the legal and regulatory breach that the occupation has caused,

  16. Karim Jaafar said

    Hi Reidar. What I don’t understand is this:

    If candidates’ names appear on both open and closed systems then what is the fuss about? How would the larger parties like ISCI or the new INA benefit from the closed-list system when voters can simply not vote for ISCI; and why would the independents and/Maliki benefit from open list system when voters can vote for them irrespective of which system is adopted?

  17. Reidar Visser said

    Karim, you’re right that to some extent the difference is a little exaggerated, and that’s another reason I think the issue to a certain degree serves as a distraction. I think the assumption is that there will eventually only be a limited selection of big lists considered truly viable (say, 5-6 lists/coalitions at most) and hundreds of hopeless small entities that will get a couple of hundred votes each at best. In that kind of scenario, a closed list will serve as a restriction on voter choice.

  18. Karim Jaafar said

    Thanks Reidar.

    But why would the closed list serve as a restriction? Do you mean that under the closed list the IHEC will accept fewer lists or coalitions? Wouldn’t those smaller “hopeless” entities still be able to get the votes they could get under the open-list?

  19. Reidar Visser said

    Sorry if I didn’t explain myself very well. No, my thinking was this. Iraqi voters have had three competitive elections now and have wasted their votes for very small parties, so let us assume that this time maybe 95% of the vote will go to 5 or 6 lists. The other lists will be allowed to run, absolutely, but they will get close to zero voter interest. If a voter wants to use his or her vote in an influential way, the choice is restricted to maybe 5 or 6 lists. Now, with open lists, he or she can also choose from 200+ candidates within each list. With closed lists, the vote just goes to the entity and the order of priority of the candidates on the list will have been decided by the party leadership.

  20. Karim Jaafar said

    Thanks again for the response. That’s made things a lot clearer.

    But one final question; Why would the other lists get “closer to zero voter interest”? Coming back to the names point, they will still have the same names before them as they would have got under the open list no?

  21. Reidar Visser said

    Yes the names would be there, absolutely. The idea that they would get no attention was just part of my hypothetical scenario, rather than anything to do with the law itself. I just assume that Iraqis will gradually react to past experiences and therefore increasingly focus on lists that are truly competitive. Hence the existence of those hundreds of names does not constitute a realistic alternative to voters, since everyone (perhaps excluding friends and family) will understand that they will not stand a chance. And under that scenario, I think it does make a difference whether a voter can choose between 6 lists under a closed system or between 1,200 plus candidates (200+ candidates per list) under an open one.

  22. Saad Jawad said

    How many names exist under the closed list system if there is 200+ candidates under the open one?

  23. Reidar Visser said

    The numbers will be the same. 200+ was just a hypothetical based on past experiences, where most parties nominated the same number of candidates as there are seats available (now expected to be in the range 275-310).

    The crucial difference is that under the closed list, the voter cannot do anything to affect the ranking of the candidates. For example, candidate number 83 on list X is probably not very popular among the party leaders, but maybe s/he is popular among the people. So under an open list they can use their vote for that candidate. This happened many times in the provincial elections in January, where candidates far down on the list were promoted by the people, and the favourites of the party leadership who had “secure” positions at the top of the list were demoted by the voters. Conversely, under a closed- list system voters will have to accept the ranking of the candidates or find another list. And there may not be much to choose from.

  24. Saad Jawad said

    Thanks.

    So would it have made any difference to someone like Youssef Mohammed al-Haboubi, an independent and head of the Karbala governorate, whether an open or closed list system was used?

  25. Reidar Visser said

    Actually, I don’t think it would make a big difference for Habubi, if he were to participate (I assume he would have to resign from his current position in the governorate of Karbala in that case). Because if he runs alone, as he did in Karbala, he would only be able to win a single seat under either system, no matter how many votes he got. And if he enters an alliance with someone else, as seems more likely, he would probably agree to get a high-ranking position on the list, given his enormous popularity in Karbala in the last elections. Under a closed list he would then remain in the same position as agreed with his alliance partners. Under an open list, voters could promote him or demote him, depending on their preferences.

  26. Saad Jawad said

    Interesting. But would it have made any difference to him whether an open or closed list system was used in the January provincial elections?

  27. Reidar Visser said

    No difference. As long as he was running on a one-person list, he would be on top of the list regardless of the system. The difference is mostly of relevance with regard to the big lists; “the Habubi phenomenon” was not a direct result of the open lists used in the last local elections.

  28. Karim Jaafar said

    Thanks Reidar for making thins a lot clearer. So the press and media are wrong then when they say the larger parties or blocs would benefit from the closed-list system right? Because it makes no difference to the party per se, but rather only those candidates that might not be very popular locally and therefore have no support from their constitutents.

  29. Reidar Visser said

    And thanks for the reference to the media about the bigger parties supposedly preferring the closed list. You’re right, it’s not size as such that is the key variable. Rather one could say that the parties that are worried about closed lists are those with a tendency of making top-down decisions. This tendency is of course in evidence in many of the biggest Iraqi parties.

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