With the deadline for passing a new election law just 24 hours away, the Iraqi parliament appears as far away as ever from deciding on the rules to government the January elections, seen as key to the Obama Administration’s drawdown strategy.
Despite fevered negotiations, the assorted parties have been unable to agree on a law which would ensure political transparency for the vote, and would instead rely on the 2005 law, in which Iraqis are not able to vote for individual candidates but instead have to vote for non-specific bloc lists.
Grand Ayatollah Sistani, the top Shi’ite cleric in the Shi’ite majority nation, has denounced the current system of closed list voting and demanded that Iraqis be allowed to vote on individual candidates. It has been rumored that Sistani will call for a boycott if the law isn’t changed, though Sistani’s office has so far denied this.
The failure to pass a new election law could throw a serious wrench into the US drawdown strategy, such as it is, since the Obama Administration has been counting on the election being a stabilizing factor and is holding off on any major troop cuts until it sees how the election fares.