Iraq and Gulf Analysis

Archive for May 27th, 2010

The Plot Thickens: State of Law Asked for the Cancellation of the Votes of Three Candidates

Posted by Reidar Visser on Thursday, 27 May 2010 10:57

The political dimension to the latest attempt at candidate disqualification in the Iraqi parliamentary election has now been spelt out: In an interview, IHEC commissioner Amal al-Birqadar has made it clear that there is a specific request from State of Law (SLA) for the votes of the three candidates, two from Iraqiyya (Najm al-Harbi in addition to Abdallah Hasan Rashid) and one from INA, to be annulled, on the basis of two legal convictions and membership in the Iraqi armed forces respectively. If those votes are cancelled, preliminary calculations show that SLA could suddenly emerge as the biggest bloc in parliament.

As for the IHEC response, it has emerged that it has proceeded to replace Harbi and Rashid by others from Iraqiyya, whereas the INA candidate, Furat al-Sharaa from Basra, has apparently been successful in presenting evidence that he is no longer a member of the armed forces (the strict legal criterion on this should however relate not to today’s situation but to the date of nomination, which was last autumn). Birqadar goes far in suggesting that IHEC considers there will be no annulment of votes (and hence no seat-allocation changes), but she also says IHEC will make a decision within days.

Birqadar does not refer to a specific law or regulation but says IHEC’s position has been made clear on this in public: If any candidate becomes non-eligible, the next person on the list will follow. This could be something that is buried in an IHEC regulation, but it might also simply refer to article 14 of the 2005 election law which still stands, and which says that “if a member [i.e. deputy] loses his seat for whatever reason, he shall be followed by the next person on the list”.

إذا فقد عضو المجلس مقعده لأي سبب يحل محله المرشح التالي في قائمته طبقا للترتيب الوارد فيها

Since this procedure has already been confirmed by IHEC as applicable to the current situation in Nineveh – where a recently-elected MP for Iraqiyya, Bashar al-Agaydi has been murdered – it should mean that it applies generally to the transitional period between the announcement of the uncertified result and the swearing in of the new parliament. As such it should also make all kinds of politically-motivated post-election exclusion attempts redundant (whether on de-Baathification or other grounds) since the seat allocation will remain unaffected regardless.

From the point of view of democratic theory this is a promising stance by IHEC, but it has to be noted that Birqadar is considered the IHEC commissioner that is closest to Iraqiyya, and it will be interesting to see what the others conclude. Faraj al-Haydari, the chief of the commission linked to the KDP, is however also on record saying that annulled candidates should get their votes transferred to their lists. In general INA is thought to be more influential within IHEC than SLA, but lately SLA has increasingly managed to get what it wants from the Iraqi judiciary. Today there are reports that the courts have asked IHEC for certain clarifications pertaining to the certification of the result.

Posted in Iraq's 2010 parliamentary election, Iraqi constitutional issues | 12 Comments »