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Wednesday, May 19, 2004

My head is spinning. I find I agree with both Mickey Kaus and David Brooks. We three think that the recent disasters in Iraq mean that the timetable for elections should be accelerated.

A counterargument is that given the mood in Iraq any pro US candidate would get creamed. The counter counter argument is that things are likely to get worse long before they get better.

However there are practical problems with rushed elections. One is that it takes time to register voters. This was the dishonest justification given by Bremeer (pronounced Boosh or really Chainy) for holding on to power via fake caucuses. However, it is also a real issue. I would go for ration card based elections.

Another issue is presidential or parliamentary and, if parliamentary, first past the post or proportional. Before Iraq went fubar I would have supported parliamentary elections with proportional representation. This guarantees a weak prime minister (I live in Italy and I know). It seemed a good idea when the risk seemed to be tyranny of the majority. In the current emergency, I think Iraq needs a directly elected president with emergency powers. A coalition government is too likely to end up like the coalition government in Afganistan between the Communists and the Taliban with the prime ministers troops shelling the capital.

The election will be, to say the least, imperfect, so I think it important the the president should be a transitional interim president who is required to return to private life.

Now who should be our candidate ? no kiss of death, it must be a deep dark secret that he or she is our guy or gal, but if you have no idea how anything good can happen no matter who wins, maybe it's best not to have an election.

One really crazy idea is to have the transitional president be a foreigner. Basically I really would like to see the Iraqi's choose between Brahimi and Bremer. I mean at least Brahimi is a Moslem Arab. Bremer gets to win 1% of the vote, keep a stiff upper lip, be a good loser and return to Washington. Brahimi would not be so easy to convince. Still that's a joke. Brahimi is a little too foreign.

I still think the guy who might pull Iraq out of the mess and then retire is al Sistani. I note he has just broken fairly decisively with Al Sadr. Now Kurds and Sunni Arabs would not be thrilled, but I wouldn't be amazed if they accepted Sistani as temporary president
given the risk that the alternative is al Sadr.

So I would go for a ration card based election of a very powerful interim president provided Sistani was willing to run.

Anyone got a better idea ?

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