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Iraqi Parliament Debates Open-List Electoral System

An electoral worker writes "rejected" on a ballot box in Baghdad in February 2009.
An electoral worker writes "rejected" on a ballot box in Baghdad in February 2009.
BAGHDAD -- A member of the Iraqi parliament's legal committee says legislative approval of a new election law is being delayed by controversy over whether to adopt a closed- or open-list system in next year's elections, RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq (RFI) reports.

Wael Abdullatif, an independent, told RFI that the main blocs in parliament have failed to agree on the open list despite majority public support for such a system.

Abdullatif said the closed-list system -- which considers Iraq a single constituency and was used in the last elections -- has since been discredited because deputies were appointed by their parties rather than being elected directly.

Khalid Shiwani, a member of the Kurdish bloc in parliament, told RFI that Kurds do not oppose to the open-list system as rumored and will go along with any system adopted by parliament.

Iraq's top Shi'ite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, warned politicians on October 6 that that turnout will suffer unless the vote is an open process and the people know which candidates they are electing.

Baghdad resident Sabri Jawad told RFI that voting in the closed-list system is like "electing someone hiding behind a screen." He added that "if parliament adopts a closed-list system they might as well cancel the elections because nobody will take part."

Saad Abd al-Nabi, another resident of Baghdad, said the closed-list system being promoted by some politicians "runs counter to the freedom of expression and democracy they preach."

National elections are scheduled for January 16.