Today, roughly three weeks after the formal deadline, the Iraqi parliament finally passed a law governing the January election. Officials say that the vote came too late to hold the election on time, but it is expected to be delayed only a week or so.
The key point, one demanding by Shi’ite clergy for months, was an open list system, where Iraqi voters would vote for individual candidates instead of merely semi-anonymous factions. This was formally supported by every major party in parliament but questions over the wording kept it a hot topic until the last vote.
The Kirkuk issue, which has cropped up in recent weeks as Kurdistan has sought its annexation, was settled with a compromise that will ultimately defer the city’s fate but will also set up the January vote to be all the more hotly contested in the tense region.
President Obama lauded the vote as an “important milestone” and said it kept the US pullout strategy on pace. However, Obama’s high hopes will likely be tempered by the reality that parliament remains hugely divided, and that the vote was only successful in the face of massive pressure from the US.