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A patient at a hospital in Baghdad casts her vote on 12 December 2005 (epa) This commentary, written by Jamal al-Bazzaz, was published on 5 December in the Baghdad-based daily "Al-Furat."


...The stark contradictions from which Iraqis are suffering are simply a clear reflection of a crisis of legitimacy…Legitimacy means a general acceptance by society. Its rules include agreeing to protect the new [political] course, and a sincere feeling that it is in the interests of all parties to emerge from the crisis.


This is done by creating a creative, efficient state, and not by spreading corruption and bribes, or bringing in ignorant, inexperienced partisan loyalists who seek to seize opportunities and make gains.


The best criteria of legitimacy are that decision-makers and the parties that implement and monitor these decision are free to choose. That is true. However, there are many standards that need to be met if a process is to be successful and capable of producing solutions that are effective and that can be implemented and turned into concrete realities.


It is not important for you to claim to be a democrat, but for you to truly believe in, and express, free will and to protect those who oppose you and to make a serious contribution to leading them towards common ground so that common interests emerge; without those no step forward is possible.


It is the task of the political elite that exercises power to address the issue of the criteria [for legitimacy] and to explain the concepts that underlie them. Unless understanding of those is enhanced, and unless they are expressed in concrete results felt by citizens, your performance will sag and you will lose the ability to convince others of your effectiveness.


In today's world, the yardstick of a successful system is achievement, and not the showcasing of ideologies, theories, and battles. Citizens may listen to you for a while, they may decide to give you their confidence, but you are doomed if you fail to fulfill your promises. At that point citizens will dismiss all your claims and mock all your arguments. Then, it will be no use speaking of injustice and correcting formulas, because citizens will simply no longer care. Citizens care about their livelihoods and about living under better conditions...


...During the [transitional] government, the two allied [Shi'ite and Kurdish] lists appeared to be a group that sought power and authority and to liquidate opposing groups. They did not think for a single day about opening channels for dialogue. Nor did they look at Iraq’s painful reality, or look as if there was an urgent and vital task that should be implemented as soon as possible. The two lists spread the symptoms of the crisis and neglected to take any serious step to restore services. They did not try, not even once, to embarrass or criticize the occupiers, out of fear for their own authority, and because they do not want authority to slip from their hands...


...Shortsightedness is still affecting most currents in Iraqi politics. And so [politicians] act rashly and make questionable calls, mistakenly thinking that they are seizing an opportunity for which they have struggled. These parties pay no heed to the fact that, in conditions of confusion and collapse, this approach will make them make unjustified mistakes...Quite simply, they are ignoring history and heritage in order to gain a type of authority that they would not have assumed had there been continuity in positions of authority.


They are also ignoring the unity of the Islamic nation in the land of Iraq, and they are behaving as others [before them] did. The value of principles is only fleshed out if one is sincere about those principles. History forgives nothing, and will always put everything in its rightful place...


Translated by Petr Kubalek

Iraqi Legislative Elections 2005



RFE/RL's coverage, background, and analysis of Iraq's December 15, 2005, legislative elections.

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