June 24, 2009
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First step towards a ”change” - By Razan Lawan, Sweden, Malmö

The Change List initiated by Kak Nowshirwan will probably do a first major change in the Iraqi Kurdish political system; that change will be to implement a mechanism in the electoral process of the KRG presidency which will transform the current system of ‘direct democracy’ to an ‘indirect democracy’. An ‘indirect’ democratic system will let the parliament of Iraqi Kurdistan have the last word of who will be president.

The current political system consist of an inactive parliament that has no real legislative power over the presidential election, instead this is decided by the eligible voters of Duhok, Hewler and Suleiamanya. To let voters decide is positive one would think, it is considered democratic but at a deeper view we see that this is not a gain neither for the democracy nor the people of our “nation”. Gainful it will be in states like France or the US to have direct democracy when Frenchmen and Americans cast their ballot for the election, but not for Kurds and the Kurdish context. The difference between these two different political context is that the former one, the western states, have real democratic principles which it follows whereas the second one is not a ‘mature’ democratic example. To understand better we can clarify this by studying what Dr. Kamal Mirawdelli is doing right now.

I think what people like Kamal Mirawdelli is doing is heroic and enlightening. People like Mr. Mirawdelli who are standing as candidate to the presidency is doing a good thing for the Kurdish people. This man is right now standing opposed to Massoud Barzani, the current president of KRG in the upcoming election. Kak Kamal knows probably very well that he will not be selected president but what he does know is that the competition and contest for the president seat is not for people to vote for as we would think. Some voters in the three governorates will vote for whoever PUK and KDP are nominating, this is their freedom and right to choose whoever they genuinely like. But still, a major part of voters are not that free to choose the leader of Iraqi Kurdistan based on their own liking and criteria.

The nominees for presidency this year do not have what it takes to campaign against the person who the ‘Kurdistani List’, consisted of KDP and PUK, have negotiated on.

Kamal Mirawdelli will not be on equal terms as Massoud Barzani when it comes to campaigning. Voters will not get familiar with all the candidates’ political and economical policies which they would apply for in their upcoming mandate. How Dr Kamal and President Barzani will tackle corruption, nepotism, social and political injustices in society in general and in the institutions in particular, and how they view the question of article 140 and Kirkuk will not be debated upon neither in a face to face fashion nor in the different media channels. So the fact is that voters in Duhok, Hewler and Suleimaniya who either dislike or do not sympathise with the current president and his policies does not have varying alternatives to choose from. With this selected club, of only one possible president that really can win the election, the knowledgeable people have also lost their freedom and right to vote for a candidate that can give an alternative stand to Massoud Barzani.

The stronger and dominating side will not let the other and weaker side nominate candidates who can match their nominee on equal conditions as this would be considered a threat to the PUK’s and KDP’s strategic agreement.

Here then, we find the problematique with the democracy in Iraqi Kurdistan; why can’t their be candidates in the presidential election who can compete on equal terms? The Kurdish people wants it, the international community will endorse it, governments in Bagdad, Tehran, and Damascus will learn something, democracy will thrive. But NO is the answer from the two ruling parties. Narrow interests of some people, within PUK and KDP, are prioritised above peoples’ wish. These same narrow interests, I believe, have hindered the progress of Iraqi Kurdistan to boom politically.

Massoud Barzani I believe could very well be a much better president than someone like Dr Kamal Mirawdelli who is not a experienced politician but rather a writer. Massoud has much more experience in certain areas of policies which Dr Kamal does not have and vice versa, but the problem is that Dr Kamal does not have access to media and not access to money, and not access to speak his mind to the eligible voters. Dr Kamal has rather spread his name more within the Kurdish diaspora, in Europe and other western countries, than in Suleimany, Duhok and Hewler. So it is safe to say, and with determination, that the electoral process for presidency will be unequal in political and economical terms

With this said, I believe much in Kak Nowshirwan’s reform idea that the “President of Kurdistan Region should be elected by the parliament rather than through direct elections”,

With an active parliament we could see parliamentarians from the ‘Change List’ echoing the argument that the parliament should do a simple hand raising of who should be the president of the Kurdish people. Hopefully we will see a democratic spirit in the parliament where debating, some more passionate than others, and negotiating will be the main methods for coming to different conclusions.

Finally it should be pointed out that it is not relevant for Kurds to speculate of whether Dr Kamal Mirawdelli really is an independent candidate, as he says himself, or supported by the ‘Change’ list and Kak Nowshirwan, or maybe only a man who wants to showcase what Kak Nowshirwan have been telling; that time has come for change and one of the decisive changes that must happen after 25th of July is to argue for the implementation of ‘indirect democracy’ into the presidential election and get rid off the current election-form of “direct democracy” where the result have been set before campaigning have begun.


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