[lit-ideas] Re: The winner has already been selected?

  • From: Judy Evans <judithevans001@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sat, 4 Dec 2004 19:40:42 +0000

Saturday, December 4, 2004, 2:04:57 PM, Phil Enns wrote:

PE> There will be democracy in Iraq because the Iraqis themselves want it.
PE> Why Andreas sees the three competing groups, Shia, Sunni and Kurds as an
PE> argument against democracy is beyond me. 

Because of the problem of (potential) permanent minorities. A piece I posted 
earlier quoted a suggestion that some Sunnis would not vote, as a boycott or 
because of intimidation.  Here's the beginning of a  piece from another paper:

Iraq's Shia parties have built a powerful political alliance uniting moderates 
with extremists and seem likely to dominate next month's general election. The 
coalition, formed in weeks of private negotiations, will put forward a joint 
list of candidates.

The process has been overseen by Iraq's most revered Shia cleric, Grand 
Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who has designated aides to unite the diverse Shia 
parties and to vet the many independent candidates standing with them.

Although he seeks no political role for himself, the influence of the 
Iranian-born ayatollah will ensure that the government has a deeply religious 
character and that Islam is a central tenet of the constitution that must be 
written next year.


 In a democracy they have the
PE> best chance of having the most say. 

that isn't in fact correct: a dictator needs internal allies, and may find them 
in (or take them from) a powerful minority grouping. That minority may well 
then have more say than they would in a majoritarian democracy.  

 As Andreas himself notes, no single
PE> group can wield absolute control so the reasonable thing to do is adopt
PE> a system where they can have as much control as possible.  All the
PE> groups recognize this as a democratic system.  Each of these groups has
PE> pushed for democracy.  The problem isn't if there will be a democracy
PE> but rather the shape of that democracy.  Is it proportional or
PE> representational?

I take it "representational", here, means "one member per constituency -- and 
one constituency member, one vote -- elected by a simple majority/plurality"; a 
version of "representative" as in "representative democracy".  Another sense of 
"representative" is of course allied to "proportional" (in its non-territorial 
sense" hence "proportional representation" (PR).  

I assume the Iraq system will be more like the first system in theory -- so 
there will be no reserved seats for Sunnis, no proportional electoral system 
that would tend to ensure their (adequate) electoral representation -- but in 
practice, may be proportional to an extent, if compromise is required.   

(Stuff on France and Germany deleted)

 Judy Evans, Cardiff, UK   

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