More than any previous legislation, the new initiatives have the potential to spur reconciliation between Sunnis and Shiites and set the country on the road to a more representative government, starting with new provincial elections.
The voting itself was a significant step forward for the Parliament, where even basic quorums have been rare. In a classic legislative compromise, the three measures, each of which was a burning issue for at least one faction, were packaged together for a single vote to encourage agreement across sectarian lines.
The three measures are the 2008 budget; a law outlining the scope of provincial powers, a crucial aspect of Iraq’s self-definition as a federal state; and an amnesty that would apply to thousands of the detainees held in Iraqi jails.
Belmont Club explains that the new law is a linchpin for reconciliation, and possibly the start of a new federal system,
This measure is vital to institutionalizing the gains won by the Surge. Iraq has long been crippled by the defective, UN-designed “closed-party list” voting system, which created political parties based on sectarian affiliation. A UN website describes why it adopted this system. It had the advantage of being easy (“no census is required”) and creating what in the UN view was an appropriate structure of political coalitions. The trouble was the system encouraged the very same fraction that took Iraq to the brink of civil war.
One of the key problems facing strategists of the Surge was to find a way to institutionalize the grassroots movement of the past year. Former insurgents would of course, be retrained and put under the discipline of the Army or Police. But what of the political leaders? The natural path was to encourage the leadership which emerged during the Surge to stand for office, which proved very difficult to do under the closed-party list system. They were dressed up with no place to go.
The impasse in Baghdad is partly the result of a logjam of sectarian interests. There are also a fair number of politicians, who because of the sectarian nature of the coalitions, are stooges of Teheran. A new election law could sweep the logjam away in a flood, with the stooges in the bargain. Electoral reform is supremely important for long term success. It is the linchpin of “reconciliation”.
Setting a budget is a very big step towards reconstruction and the building of not only an infrastructure but also a strong economy.
In a thorough post, Bill Ardolino examines the Iraqi legistalive branch.
While the term “accomodation” may or may not be more appropriate than “reconciliation”, there is no doubt that the Iraqi Parliament has made a huge step towards more representative government.
Ed Morrissey notices that Even The New York Times Notices Progress
They leave a few points out of this editorial. For instance, they leave out that none of this would have been possible had we listened to General Harry Reid and Admiral Nancy Pelosi, both of whom declared defeat — Reid doing so literally — and demanding a bug-out for the last two years. They don’t mention that Hillary Clinton all but called (the real) General David Petraeus a liar for telling Congress that the situation had greatly improved in Iraq. The editors also fail to mention their acceptance of an ad that called Petraeus a traitor, placed by MoveOn, which supports candidates like Reid, Pelosi, and Clinton.
Had we listened to them, Iraqis would be dying by the tens of thousands, al-Qaeda would have turned Iraq into their own state, and they would have their hands on Iraq’s oil resources. The Times doesn’t bother to mention that, either.