Reader Q. and A. on the Iraq Elections
By ANTHONY SHADID
As the results from Iraq’s March 7 elections finally coalesce, our Baghdad correspondent Anthony Shadid is responding to readers’ questions about the election, its outcome, and the likely winners and losers in the complex negotiations that are certain to follow. Mr. Shadid joined The New York Times earlier this year after winning the Pulitzer Prize in 2004 for his Iraq coverage.
Q. Will the parties be able to use the number of seats they win in Kirkuk right away in negotiating for a coalition, since they are only provisional according to the Election Law? Will those Kirkuk seats be able to cast votes in Parliament before they are finally confirmed? Will this affect the Parliament’s vote for president, prime minister and speaker?
A. All these are possible. My sense is that you won’t see any breakthrough – in ways good or bad – any time soon in Kirkuk. The Kurds, of course, could protest their showing in Kirkuk, but I there’s enough American engagement there right now to head off any conflict. That won’t be the case long term. My sense is that the election will solidify a balance of power that promotes a temporary status quo, with a pledge to negotiate long-term sovereignty in, say, seven years or so. On your question about the seats themselves, nothing is confirmed until the results are certified, so Kirkuk’s representation will await the seating of everyone else. The seats themselves will probably fall in line with larger coalitions that are gathered to name a prime minister. Kirkuk is a little different, since there is a provision to allow a challenge of the voter rolls, but in the end, I’m not sure that challenge will affect the final balance of the seats.
I am sad to hear that Anthony Shadid passed away a few days ago while in Syria covering the conflict. It appears that it was due to a severe asthma attack on February 16th. I always enjoyed reading his articles and dispatches from the Middle East.