The American-led effort to conduct the election in Iraq has produced a valid, democratic result according to UN election monitors, dealing the Sunnis a blow in their efforts to extort more seats than they won at the ballot box from nervous Shi’ite and Kurds. The New York Times reports that the UN has declared that there exists no justification for any re-run:
Craig Jenness, a Canadian who led the United Nations’ election coordination effort in Iraq, said his agency believed that the elections “were transparent and credible.” He added that although all complaints must be weighed thoroughly, “we at the U.N. see no justification in calls for a rerun of the elections.”
The assertion, made at a news conference in Baghdad, brought bitter denunciations from some Sunni Arab political leaders, who swore to continue pressing their claims that ballot box stuffing and other fraud had distorted the election results. …
Several Sunni parties, as well as some secular groups, have called for the authorities to hold a new election, but that demand now seems unlikely to be met. Abdul Hussein al-Hindawi, an electoral commission board member, read a statement at the news conference saying that the commission planned on canceling some ballots in some areas, but that it had all but ruled out holding a new vote because it had not found evidence of widespread forgery.
Individual ballots with evidence of fraud or forgery will not count in the totals and will instead be destroyed, the commission stated yesterday. That just represents common sense in any election, and even in the most advanced democracies forged and fraudulent ballots will appear. All we have to do is look at the shenanigans in Wisconsin to see that, as thousands of bogus registrations in Milwaukee allowed Democrats to squeak out a win. In a tighter race, that could have created a constitutional crisis here. (The Democrats tried to force one over Ohio, but Congress didn’t bite.)
The Iraqis have found out that democracy isn’t perfect, and that having a vote means that one has a voice in how the government gets constituted — not that one always gets what one wants. The UN has played an important part in emphasizing this lesson. Once the dust settles and the official results get announced, I predict that the National Assembly will, generally speaking, reflect the ethnic/religious demographics of the country, and that the Iraqis start consolidating the 300+ political parties down to a half-dozen or so for the next election in order to fine-tune their electoral power. That will be the lesson that Iraqis will learn most of all — that collective voting with a larger national parties will create more leverage than a multitude of single-issue parties provide.