That was the good news (crossposted at CT)

Amid all the dreadful news from Iraq, Australian blogger Arthur Chrenkoff has made it his mission to report the good news. A lot of the time this consists of impossibly cute kitten stories, and those repainted schools we’re always hearing about. But there is some real good news.

And, then, there’s this report on conditions for participation in the Iraqi election, linked by Chrenkoff from Iraq the model

To take part in the elections any group of people or an individual can make an application to the commission to be registered as a political entity, and with the application the individual who wants to be registered as a political entity should pay the sum of 2.5 million Iraqi Dinars while a group of individuals that want to be registered as a political entity should pay 7.5 million Iraqi Dinars. Any bills that result from violations made by the entity will be deducted from the sum. The money will be returned once the election ends if the political entity or a coalition of entities get 50% of the required votes to win a seat. If an entity fails to achieve that the sum will be taken to the treasury.

The requirements for candidates and registering political parties are:
1-A list of members qualified for voting that contains no less than 500 individual.
2-An internal regulations document that lists the rules that governs the party’s activities.
3-Should have no connection with a militia or an active armed group.
4-Should not receive funds from any militia or active armed group.
5-The political entity should not provoke, take part or encourage terrorist or any criminal activities and violence.
6-The name of the party should not incite hatred or violence and the logo of the party should not contain any religious or military symbols.

The most striking feature is the registration fee. If I have the exchange rate correct, it’s about $US 2500, for an individual candidate, a year’s income for a middle-class Iraqi and an unattainable sum for the average person. This is far higher than in Western countries, and the number of votes required to avoid forfeiting the deposit is also large. (Australia requires $A350 or about $US250, and you only need 4 per cent of the votes to get your money back).

These rules make it almost impossible for an independent individual to run, and provide a huge headstart for the established parties that make up the interim government. And there’s ample room for the incumbents or the occupying forces (it’s not clear who’s in control here) to disqualify anyone they don’t like.

All of this suggests the possibility that the election will be a Soviet-style plebiscite, consisting, for all practical purposes, of a Yes-No vote on a slate of candidates drawn up in a backroom deal among the parties making up the interim assembly. This is how the interim assembly itself was set up[1], much to the disgust of independent delegates. An outcome where the incumbents ran on a unity ticket and won would be even worse than not holding the election at all.

That concludes the good news for this week.

fn1. It appears that Allawi gives a weekly address to this assembly, but I’m not aware that it’s done anything other than serve as an audience. Does anyone have any info on this ?

24 thoughts on “That was the good news (crossposted at CT)

  1. I think the point here is that you would not have found that story unless Arthur had gone to the trouble to bring it to you.

  2. It’s a long time since I read Wiskemann, but if memory serves Mussolini reformed the Italian voting system along roughly the following lines: there was a modified proportional list system, with the majority party (I think if it had more than a quota, maybe 40%?) getting its count uplifted to 2/3 of the chamber, with the remainder of the seats being allocated proportionately among the remaining parties.

    I forget what qualified parties to be considered, but I’m pretty sure there weren’t any legal communists. I do recall that there was a secret ballot, with a double voting slip system for convenience; you used one slip of one colour if you were voting Fascist, and another slip with lots of options for the other parties you had to tick off if you didn’t vote Fascist, and to prevent fraud you returned whichever slip you didn’t use to the supervising officers.

    Maybe the US could adapt this fine procedure for restoring order to a degraded parliamentary process?

  3. I don’t know how many seats the Iraqi parlement will have but if it is 100 members than you would need to get .5% of the vote. A lot less than 4%

  4. 3-Should have no connection with a militia or an active armed group.
    4-Should not receive funds from any militia or active armed group.

    Hey – isn’t the American Army an “active armed group”?

  5. In Australia that’s 4% of the seat you are contesting – ie in say Ryan, 4% of 90000 is 3600 votes in order to get your deposit back. (or 4% of the State’s vote if you’re running in the senate).

  6. Phoenican, presumably American Army officers won’t be standing in the election.

    CL, do you have a point to make here?

    tim, do you honestly mean to say you haven’t heard stories of “everything’s fine, we opened a school last week”, “everything’s fine, we built a park last week”, and so on? Or the complaining: “why don’t the librul meeja tell the real story? Instead of reporting all this death and destruction, they should be talking about that park they built last week!”

  7. Tim and Crusader, the obvious example of a kitten story was the one linked by Tim Dunlop, about how Iraq ” looks a little like Wisconsin. There are farmers tilling fields and women walking on roads.” An exact parallel is the scene in Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 with children flying kites etc in the halcyon days before the war. Moore copped heaps of criticism for this, and justly so.

    To spell it out, even in the midst of war and even under the worst dictatorships, farmers till fields, children (and kittens) play and so on. This isn’t news.

  8. even in the midst of war and even under the worst dictatorships, farmers till fields, children (and kittens) play and so on. This isn’t news.

    Well shit. This has gone all post-modern on me. Apparently we (either do or don’t) need to be reminded that ‘normal’ reality actually exists in some places around the world – and it isn’t just turmoil.

    But seriously, John do you honestly equate the reconstruction efforts in Iraq with just ’tilling the fields’? If so, that says a lot about both ‘the fields’ and Iraq.

  9., on the first point, it’s simply very hard to do this in a way that doesn’t come off as dishonest, or at least misleading. I don’t think Michael Moore succeeded, and I don’t think Chrenkoff’s use of the Sweeney story (a somewhat selective quote by the way) did either.

    On your second point, reread my post. I agree there is some real good news, and that includes some successes in reconstruction. But the electoral rules cited by Chrenkoff are anything but good news.

  10. Point taken.. I do agree with you that it’s hard to do it in a way that’s not misleading or dishonest. But then again, what are the alternatives? Reporting all the news from Iraq “objectively”? By tabloid definition ‘news’ has very little ‘good’ in it. ‘Good’ usually doesn’t rate like ‘murder’ or ‘explosion’ or ‘bitchiness’ does. Perhaps ‘news’ is a misnomer here.

  11. So your definition of “an impossibly cute kitten story” is a story about “farmers tilling fields and women walking on roads”?

  12. So show me a Chrenkoff cute kitten story. Or have you just made up a phrase to cover any good news story? Like:

    “We had the first decent rain in months yesterday!”

    “That’s just a cute kitten”

    Show me the kitten or admit you got it wrong.

  13. I get the feeling that if JQ wrote a post saying that “the writing is on the wall”, Tim Blair would write a 962 word post demanding to see photos of the “alleged writing”.

  14. OK, where’s the kitten?

    Or if you like, show me the dozens of articles from the CENTCOM site (you know, the news-not-fit-to-print about Iraqis informing on terrorists, the increased standard of living, the people not being slaughtered any more) that have made it to MSM here in Oz.

    Actually, if you could show me just one, one is all I’m asking, a single solitary pro-Iraq article, that has received the same amount of coverage as the least anti-Iraq story?

  15. I mentioned two items of good news a couple of weeks ago, and here’s the ABC covering one of them, the Sadr weapons deal (Google news “sadr weapons” produces plenty more)

    Unfortunately, the good news from Fallujah didn’t pan out. But you only asked for one, so here it is.

  16. I don’t know what the real cost of registering to vote is in Iraq. I do agree if they have set the bar reasonably high, because this has two important effects.

    Firstly, it means that a candidate has to have a reasonable level of support to get registered.

    Secondly it stops all the crackpots registering.

    Both of these effects saves wasting resources on futile and mindless causes.

    For example, if the bar wasn’t set so high in Australia I would consider throwing my name on the Sneate ballot as a smoky to diffuse the luvvies votes. As it is I don’t because it costs too much.

  17. I’m with you, Quiggo. Saddam should be released and the Americans should apologise. What were they thinking? Private individuals in the UN could then go on reaping millions from the Food for Oil program, the French, Germans, Chinese and Russians could continue selling Saddie weapons, and the UN, led by Annan the Rwandan genocide enabler, could continue to lash Saddam with even more harshly-worded Resolutions while Saddam and his apparatchiks were murdering 5,000 Iraqi citizens per month.

    You must let me know which additional mass-murdering chemical-weapons-using tyrannies you’d like to see established around the world. I’m due some holidays so might be available to assist your ambitions.

  18. Every silver lining has a cloud
    John Quiggin points to more shortcomings in the rightwing Prozac that is the Chrenkoff list of Iraqi happy stories. Pro-war types cling to this ongoing list like Linus’s blanket protecting them against that big bad Bush administration boogey-man, reali…

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