Friday, January 14, 2005

Just depressing

Is there any other way to describe the prospects for the Iraqi elections? With just over two weeks to go until the poll, the interim regime has admitted that violence will prevent voting in some parts of the country. While they are downplaying the extent, the provinces they are talking about contain about 50% of the population of the country - and the capital. In other words, we are looking at an "election" where the majority of the population - and the majority of Sunnis, who are already hostile to the new order in Iraq - will not be able to participate.

Riverbend's latest report isn't exactly encouraging either. There's an open market in ballot papers and candidate names are being kept secret for their protection; with people being murdered right left and center, you can hardly blame them, but what sort of democracy is it when people are not allowed to know who they are voting for? The whole thing is turning into a farce, and people know it. If Riverbend's reaction is anything to go by, the resulting government won't be seen as legitimate by many Iraqis.

And on the other hand, 50% of an election is better than no election at all (or the sorts of "elections" practised under Saddam). Something may be able to be salvaged by providing representation for those who cannot vote, backed by the promise of local elections at the first available opportunity, but it will hardly be the shining pillar of democracy that the Americans promised. By this measure then (as with so many others), the war should be considered a failure. It's a testament to the ability of the Americans to fuck things up that they've managed to turn "elections" into a dirty word...