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Think 2-party election is hard? Try 83

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/1%2C1249%2C600107940%2C00.html Think 2-party election is hard? Try 83 By Geoffrey Fattah Deseret Morning News If you think
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 29, 2005
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      http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/1%2C1249%2C600107940%2C00.html

      Think 2-party election is hard? Try 83

      By Geoffrey Fattah
      Deseret Morning News

      If you think voting in a two-party system is
      tough, try voting in an 83-party system. I'll never
      complain about voting in a U.S. general election
      again.
      Staring at a ballot written in Arabic with 111
      entries, I realized that I have one shot at this. When
      I step up to the poll this weekend to vote in the
      Iraqi national election, I will be able to check only
      one box � one box out of 111 choices.
      In the past few days I have tried to tell the
      difference between the United Iraqi Alliance and the
      Alliance of Independent Democrats, the National
      Democratic Party and the National Democratic Alliance,
      and I've grasped the scope of what a historic event
      next week's election will be.
      This is history in the making: the first time in
      a generation that Iraqis, from all over the world,
      will gather to express their political will. From the
      Kurds in the north, who endured massacre under Saddam
      Hussein, to Iraqi Christians and other minorities who
      have long lived without a voice, a new government will
      be formed.
      There are parties and alliances on the ballot
      that offer everything from democratic-but-Muslim to
      secular-yet-conservative. Some parties want an
      alliance with Turkey, others want to bring the old
      Iraqi monarchy back, and yet others want a Shiite
      state similar to Iran.
      Armed with my voter registration card, after
      showing proof of my father's birth, I will once again
      travel to Irvine, Calif., to cast my own vote.
      When an election official told me last weekend
      that the ballot will only be in Arabic, my heart sank
      into my stomach. Born in the United States, I can't
      read Arabic. "You're just going to have to do your
      homework," she told me.
      That's what I've been doing, but as I stared at
      a sample ballot I can't read, it's hard not to be a
      bit intimidated. Lucky for me each party is associated
      with a number. My job has been to find sources on the
      Internet that can tell me which number goes with which
      party.
      Here's how the election will work. Iraqis won't
      be voting for candidates but rather political parties.
      Each political party has submitted a list of
      candidates. Representation from each party will be
      proportionate to the percentage of the votes they
      receive.
      Here's an example: If one party receives 20
      percent of the total election vote, it will get 55
      assembly seats out of a total 275 seats. The
      candidates will be selected from the top of the list
      down. Those people chosen will then form the
      Transitional National Assembly, which is charged with
      three important tasks: drafting an Iraqi constitution,
      electing a president and two deputy presidents, and
      legislating/overseeing executive authority.
      It's heartening to know that the Independent
      Electoral Commission of Iraq, which is overseeing the
      election, has mandated that one-third of all party
      candidates must be women. However, I doubt many of the
      more conservative parties will resist the urge to
      shove most of their female candidates to the bottom of
      their lists.
      I don't know yet where my check mark will land
      on this ballot, but I do know that the influence of
      growing up an American will come into play. I want my
      vote to go to a party that is secular and democratic.
      Iraq is a more diverse place than we assume, with many
      minority groups who would not flourish under a single
      religious ideology.
      Like many Iraqi nationals and Iraqi-Americans,
      my effort to spend time and money to travel to cast my
      vote adds weight to my decision. I've got one shot.
      I've got to make it a good one.
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