April 12 , 2009

Kurdistan’s Parliament Elections:

Time for Campaigning - Razan Lawan, Sweden Malmö

”In principle” (Adnan Mufti, Kurdistan parliament speaker, said) it is set for Kurdistan’s parliament elections to be held on may 19. In reality, however, with certain conditions on ground, we do not now if citizens in Dohuk, Erbil and Suleimany governorate will be able to cast their votes on that date. But let us hope of initiatives taken by the ruling kurdish leadership to follow what rest of Iraq did with their recent provincial elections, which was a historic showcase of democratic practice.

This practice, revealed in the Iraqis’ democratic attitude, shown by the majority of the Iraqi (arab) people during the provincial elections must be followed up by the Kurds with great efforts. Ballots for parties, independent lists and individuals  running for the provincial elections did change the political landscape in Iraq; a healthy sign for the democratic experiment in the country. What pursued Iraqis before the elections, such as lack in services, violence, unemployment, nepotism and corruption, will probably be tackled more effectively when the imbalance of the provincial councils are restored due to peoples expectations. One of these expectations was to include the Sunnis in the political process.

We the Kurds can hopefully do the same on the upcoming election when wanting change status quo in our society by including parties and independent lists in the Kurdish parliament that can meet our expectations and demands.

A new makeup of Kurdistan’s parliament, due to voters’ interests, will be a starting point for a new political culture where elected parliamentarians can engage in discussions that will give this high regarded institution a real legislative force. That’s what we need, and that is the main task for any parliament around the world, including Iraqi Kurdistan. Factors such as the spread of corruption, where accusations are made frequently to officials within PUK and KDP, the inefficiency of KRG governance, one example be the shortcomings of the infrastructural needs, and the absence of a healthy engagement of the private sector in the region’s economy will all be talking points for serious discussion and thereby a changing of policy if elected officials genuinly will represent the Kurdish peoples’ needs. The latter point, of the discouragement that KRG shows toward the private sector if not controlled by the two ruling parties’ officials, is related to the  spread of corruption and nepotism and cronyism which hinder private investments by domestic and foreign companies if they do not apply to the interests of the ruling leaderships.

A first respond by KRG together and the parliament to the unmet infrastructural needs, the absence of an active private sector and accusations of government corruption, nepotism and cronyism must be to create transparency to the yearly budget.

Polls presented in the American newsmagazine NEWSWEEK  shows that 94 % of Dohuk’s, Erbil’s and Suleimany’s residents want more transparency in KRG’s budget. Same group of people want to know how money are spent by the government. 83% want “change”; a changing of current status quo with the elimination of corruption, nepotism and cronyism witnessed in public institutions.

Voters on election day should ask themselves whether there is a need for reforms within Kurdistan’s political structure, and if there is; which political party or independent list running for parliament seats can implement these, or at least create a atmosphere within the parliament so that the quietness of our “elected” legislatures can come to an end.

With this said I truly hope that our parliament will get rid of the familiar label of being one of world’s most quiet parliament.


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