The elec­tion process is un­der­way, the cam­paign is warm, and events will be heat­ing up fur­ther

The Kurdish Globe - - NEWS - By Gazi Has­san

The elec­tion cam­paign for the fourth Kur­dis­tan Par­lia­ment be­gan on Au­gust 21, 2013. Within hours of the an­nounce­ment, the KRG’s po­lit­i­cal par­ties started cam­paign­ing for their par­ties and lists with the ex­cep­tion of the PDK, which was the only party to of­fi­cially post­pone its elec­tion cam­paign (for five days). And while some cam­paigns have used un­com­pro­mis­ing ‘pep­pery’ lan­guage and oth­ers have yet to re­ally get un­der­way, the im­por­tant thing is that the process is demo­cratic. Even though some po­lit­i­cal en­ti­ties are es­sen­tially us­ing their cam­paigns as pro­pa­ganda to prove their po­lit­i­cal ex­is­tence, all par­ties are pro­mot­ing their lists and can­di­dates and com­pet­ing in a peace­ful man­ner and in line with the demo­cratic prin­ci­ples they es­pouse. There are re­li­gious men in the lists, women, young peo­ple, Chris­tians, Yazidis, aca­demic per­son­al­i­ties, politi­cians and pro­fes­sion­als. Na­tion­al­ists and Kur­dis­tani Turk­man are par­tic­i­pat­ing with some groups and lists, while Kil­dans and Assyr­i­ans have lists of their own along with dozens of can­di­dates com­pet­ing for the 111 seats in the Kur­dis­tan par­lia­ment. Is­lamist, Chris­tian, and other re­li­gious and na­tion­al­ist groups are also mak­ing their pres­ence felt and voices heard. An ob­vi­ous fea­ture of the Kur­dis­tan elec­tion process is the at­tacks and crit­i­cism launched by the Op­po­si­tion, who has pro­voked an­gry re­ac­tions by tar­get­ing per­sonal mat­ters for their own po­lit­i­cal pur­poses. The mem­bers of the rul­ing coali­tion also in­tend to main­tain the bal­anced com­pe­ti­tion and peace­ful process, since they con­sider them­selves pow­er­ful and in­flu­en­tial. In fact, the process it­self may turn out to be more in­flu­en­tial that the Op­po­si­tion’s bad­mouthing, since the free­dom of speech they are ex­ploit­ing has made it pal­pa­bly clear to ev­ery­one that all par­ties in the elec­tion en­joy equal op­por­tu­ni­ties.

This time, the process seems both ‘warmer’ and more im­por­tant than in for­mer elec­tions be­cause of the on­go­ing de­vel­op­ments in Kur­dis­tan and Iraq. In­ter­nally, the ad­min­is­tra­tion and po­lit­i­cal sys­tems along with the work of the Op­po­si­tion has broad­ened in Southern Kur­dis­tan, which may re­sult in par­ties re­con­sid­er­ing their power and pub­lic po­si­tion. This elec­tion could be cru­cial for test­ing the au­thor­i­ties’ be­lief in and com­mit­ment to democ­racy, and to hand­ing over power, if, as some op­po­si­tion par­ties claim, the elec­tions usher in a change in the base and el­e­ments of the ad­min­is­tra­tion. Of course, the Op­po­si­tion should not get ahead of it­self and start judg­ing re­ac­tions ahead of the elec­tions—be­cause what they are do­ing is in­sin­u­at­ing to peo­ple that “if we didn’t get enough votes, it means the au­thor­i­ties has rigged the elec­tions”. Need­less to say, this psy­chol­ogy of loss and re­venge is any­thing but con­struc­tive at this junc­ture.

This elec­tion is more cru­cial for some par­ties than oth­ers. How can the Kur­dis­tan Demo­cratic Party, which is fo­cus­ing on ex­tend­ing its al­liance and main­tain­ing its bal­ance with the PUK, re­tain the bal­ance of power? How can PUK take back its votes from the Go­ran Move­ment, which split from them, es­pe­cially when Go­ran are their main ri­val in Sle­many prov­ince but is still linked to them or­ga­ni­za­tion­ally? How they can split their dis­course, meth­ods and po­lit­i­cal and ad­min­is­tra­tive work from that of the Go­ran Move­ment, which is the ex­ten­sion of the same method, po­lit­i­cal men­tal­ity and ide­ol­ogy? What will hap­pen to po­lit­i­cal Is­lamists af­ter the col­lapse of Mus­lim Broth­er­hood in Egypt, and af­ter they have been un­der­mined by the al­liance be­tween Go­ran, the Is­lamic Union and the Is­lamic Group, and failed even af­ter long ne­go­ti­a­tions to run in the elec­tion as a uni­fied list? Es­pe­cially if the bal­ance of power and in­ter­ests change af­ter the re­sults of the Septem­ber 21, 2013 elec­tion. These are im­por­tant as­pects of the po­lit­i­cal bal­ance of power dur­ing the run-up to the elec­tion, and will be the main ques­tion af­ter the re­sults are pub­lished. What is still more im­por­tant is that some po­lit­i­cal par­ties are bet­ting on the dis­so­lu­tion of the KDP-PUK al­liance and on sep­a­ra­tion of these two great pow­ers in Kur­dis­tan. If these hopes do not come to fruition, how can they en­dure the tense, com­bat­ive at­mos­phere in which at­tacks are launched on other par­ties?

The process is im­por­tant, be­cause the elec­tion is to be held on time with 37 lists com­pet­ing. The main par­ties like the KDP and PUK are run­ning in sep­a­rate lists, and this time, the peo­ple of Kur­dis­tan will vote for their rep­re­sen­ta­tive more hon­estly. We should not for­get that cit­i­zens are liv­ing in bet­ter con­di­tions than in past years, which is why they may con­sider the par­ties’ agen­das more care­fully and de­cide with greater con­fi­dence. A new gen­er­a­tion born af­ter 1991 will be par­tic­i­pat­ing in this elec­tion for the first time. They need jobs, so­cial devel­op­ment, ed­u­ca­tion, tourism, in­ter­net and role mod­els. Women are pur­su­ing their so­cial rights by means of le­gal and cul­tural aware­ness. It is true that his­tory has a great role to play in the de­ci­sions taken by in­di­vid­ual Kurds, but that does not mean that the pro­grams and think­ing of cur­rent and fu­ture hori­zons will not have an im­pact on a new gen­er­a­tion whose eyes are wide open. Gen­er­ally speak­ing, this elec­tion will be an­other de­ci­sive cel­e­bra­tion of the bal­ance of power and proof that the rights and wishes of Kur­dish vot­ers are now been catered for. The will and qual­i­fi­ca­tions of the can­di­dates is def­i­nitely more cen­ter stage than in pre­vi­ous elec­tions.

That is why peo­ple’s par­tic­i­pa­tion in this elec­tion will be bet­ter able to de­ter­mine the fu­ture of Kur­dis­tan and the des­tiny of the peo­ple and groups that live there through the prac­tice of the demo­cratic right to vote. Cit­i­zens can also de­ter­mine the value and type of the par­lia­ment to come through their vote, by choos­ing qual­i­fied peo­ple who can build a more ac­tive par­lia­ment. But we should re­mem­ber that Kur­dis­tan is not yet an in­de­pen­dent state, which is why our vot­ers need a calmer, brighter, in­de­pen­dent Kur­dis­tan. This mat­ter will clearly play a ma­jor role in the vot­ers’ de­ci­sion come polling day. The im­por­tant thing is that the process has started, the com­pe­ti­tion is warm, and events seem to be mov­ing very much in the right di­rec­tion.

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