News in Bet-Nahren, Assyria

The Kurdish Elections Need a Population Census

Posted: Thursday, July 05, 2001 at 12:56 PM CT

Assyria The Kurdish elections for municipal council members and their leaders, to be followed by a General Election, are afoot. This is great news but, like the 1992 elections, they lack proper planning and deviate from the norm by being conducted without knowledge of the size and type of electorate involved.

This means that we will have no idea who is eligible to elect and who is not. In the U.K. and other countries with democratic systems, the electorate is registered via censuses carried out every ten years or so. There is an electoral register identifying each electorate clearly and no one outside of that electoral register is allowed to vote. It does not matter if you are a born and bred Briton or not. If your name is not on the list for the current election, you are not allowed to vote. The register is also used to issue the card with which you are able to go to a specific polling station to cast your vote. You are not allowed to vote (unless by prior arrangement) anywhere else. Your polling station is identified on your card and that is where you can vote because the people at that station will have a register of who is to be expected there. Your ticket is checked against the register and your name is ticked off once you have voted. Also, without such a register anyone including members of Saddam’s secret service, still active in the region, the Turkish and Iranian agents and members of the UN can stand in the queue and vote when their turn comes.

During the 1992 “elections” the electorate was not known because there was no such registers. Anyone who wished to cast a vote went to any polling station and made a tick or ticks against a party list. This meant that multiple casting of votes could not be checked. Hence the story of the infamous ink, which was to stain your finger in order that you could be spotted and prevented from voting more than once. Unfortunately, it was reported at the time that many had found ways of washing off the stain and gone and voted twice and thrice and so on. There was also absolute chaos at the make-shift polling stations to the extent that by 12 p.m. My brother and I could not get close to voting and went home without being able to do so.

To cap it all this was the situation in the main towns while many of the rural areas were not even taken into account. Party activists in control on both sides of the political divide did their best to rig the elections with the result that by some miracle two totally unequal parties obtained such remarkably close figures, and the disastrous 50:50 administration was brought about. What followed was a period of wasted 4 years which eventually resulted in several more years of internal fighting and strife for our already exhausted nation.

Such behaviour could not be attributed to people who are democratically inclined. It could be the behaviour of people who pretend to be so inclined but anyone who is a genuine democrat could not accept it or condone it, let alone calling it “democratic elections”.

Since even today the Kurdish administrations are intent on carrying out “guess work” electioneering I am not optimistic about the results. During Dr Roj Nuri Shaweis’s visit to London last year, I suggested to him in a meeting that population census and elections go hand in hand and that, even if the two ruling parties were unable to agree on a general election, they could still carry out the census because it would in its own right be a very valuable and practical proposition which would help in planning and development. Sadly, like all of our other “politicians” he listened and then completely ignored my suggestion.

Another feature of the activities of the Kurdish administration is their imitation of many of the worst behaviour of the Iraqi regime. They are so scared of being branded as “separatists” and “extreme nationalists” that they avoid anything which could be really beneficial for the Kurds. Even the laws and regulations which their parliament postulate are based on those already used and in force in Baghdad and Arab Iraq. We all know about the school books used for “educating” Kurdish children, still carrying Seddam’s pictures and promoting Arab nationalist causes including such nonsense about Kurdistan being part of the Arab homeland. The administrations’ headed paper and correspondence still having the same form and emblems of the Ba’ath regime, many of which is still in Arabic. It seems that as far as the elections are concerned they are hesitant to carry them out properly,

  1. Because that would mean the people will rule and the parties would serve the people.
  2. For fear that Saddam may object and with him the rest of the Arab states, Turkey and Iran.
The fact is: without a census there will be no electoral register. Without such a register you cannot identify constituencies and produce electoral cards to vote with. This means the following:
  • The electorate will not have an identifiable M.P. with a surgery to go to when needed.
  • This means the elected “MPs” will simply be their own party’s representatives and Yes-men and instead of being accountable to their electors, they will be accountable to their party alone. Such a “parliament” will not even be as “democratic” as its older sister in Baghdad!
  • The parties will continue to be the rulers and the people their subjects. This, therefore, cannot be considered democracy by any stretch of imagination.
  • Planning will not be subject to the real situation on the ground or according to people’s wishes but at the mercy of the ruling clans and the “Families” controlling the parties.
  • The people’s votes would be used to legitimize the hegemony of two tribal families, rather than to serve the nation.

I would, therefore, like to ask everyone with the interests of our nation at heart to contact the Administrations and voice their concerns and ask for a proper democratic election, which by its nature and definition requires a population census and a real intention to pass power into the hands of the Kurdish voters.

Kurdistan Democratic Party Collected Majority of Votes in the Municipal Elections

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