Political parties and governance :Political parties draft programs, governments implement
Two weeks ago; the Kurdish parliament assigned Mr. Nichirvan Barzani as Prime Minister and the Mr. Imad Ahmed as deputy to shape the government's 7th cabinet, they have been given time period from February 16th to March 16th to complete the structure of the cabinet so the Parliament will approve it. As we have mentioned in our previous reports and Mr. Nechirvan Barzani had mentioned in his message on his official page in Facebook that the 7th cabinet is the same program of Kurdistani list and will proceed the same program the 6th cabinet had worked by for the last two and half years. The discussions about the mechanism of 7th cabinet will go in parallel with discussing the implementation the program that everyone has it, so the aim in this change is regarding the mechanism of managing and implementing the program, not implementing a better or worse program, but testing a new mechanism for better implementing the program. The question in here is that; Kurdish people have built many wishes and hopes across this change while there will be no change in the program? The answer consists of some aspects that we can classify them as the following:
1- It is true that the head and deputy of the former cabinet were from the politburo of both KDP and PUK, but these two parties don't intervene directly in the works of their candidates and they give their candidates full independency, so if there is difference between managing the common program of KDP and PUK, it refers to the difference between the candidates. Although differences should exist; but also will be interpreted within the self and subjective framework.
2- Another point explains that both KDP and PUK have positive responses to the local and international changes, as the situation requires making changes, they are at the level of responsibility to take any serious decisions, which usually takes place according to the agreement between both sides, this shows that the strategic agreement is to a more extend in the interest of uniting and preserving the achievements on the local, Iraqi and regional levels, than to take their own interests into consideration. It is more to respond to the demands of the people than to monopoly the authority as some aspects are trying to show it.
3- The third point is the change of Prime Minister in person, in which Nichirvan Barzani has been assigned by both KDP and PUK to shape the new cabinet for a short period of time which many people think it is only 1 functional year, shows that despite proceeding the program of the former cabinet, the 7th cabinet has another responsibility which is to change the ruling infrastructure of Kurdistan region from a complicated and non-friendly one to a normal and friendly infrastructure. Certainly by normalizing and friendly we don't mean to ban the differences, or to have the opposition not criticizing anymore or to forget about its main aim which is to come to power, on controversy; normal and friendly means to accept differences and conflicts normally and to accept the results of the upcoming elections. Obviously to overcome the norm in which opposition is used to boycott the parliament during the elections of the head of parliament and assignments of new cabinets, and to have pre-evaluation on parliament and government, this norm is hopefully expected to be over for the upcoming parliament sessions. The general duty of government and Nichirvan Barzani in person is to work for moving on from this norm, and we can have so much hope in this point, because in the previous issue of GULAN magazine we asked Fazil Mirani, the head of KDP politburo, to what extend KDP politburo will have a role in the shaping of the new cabinet and nominating the ministers? he responded to GULAN magazine as: we as KDP will have the least intervening in this task and will give Nichirvan Barzani complete independency to form his cabinet. In general we cannot consider this speech of Mr. Mirani as the attitude of PUK also, but as the interview was after the meeting of KDP and PUK for assigning Nichirvan Barzani to lead the new cabinet, we can interpret it as PUK may have the same position and will not intervene in the tasks of Imad Ahmed, so Nichirvan Barzani and Imad Ahmed will both cooperate to form the new cabinet of the KRG so as to deliver the changes that Kurdish people are waiting for.
The PDK and the PUK are allies before the elections, not after.
Mostly instead of KDP and PUK we mention Kurdistani list, this is due to their participating in the elections together as allies and the majority of votes they have got is of both sides, none of them knows which of them has how much percentage of the votes they have together, so both KDP and PUK have participated in the election as one political party and they have a common program which is the program of Kurdistani list, so if there is difference in the number of parliament members they each have which is KDP is 30 and PUK is 29 is due to the odd number of the seats they have got which was 59 so they couldn't share it like 29.5 for each of them, so the 30 KDP members and 29 members of PUK doesn't show that KDP membership in the parliament is more, maybe if the arrangement of the members of Kurdistani list had been done in another manner the PUK membership could have been 30 and KDP's 29, the evidence for this as we see it was PUK's candidate, Dr. Barham Salih, who shaped the cabinet of the government. So 59 seats in parliament mentions the capacity of KDP and PUK both together as Kurdistani list, not 30 of KDP and 29 of PUK separately. The separation of them is not something right, that is why till the end of this session of parliament we should mention both KDP and PUK as Kurdistani list, and as we discuss the government we mean by program of Kurdistani list, not the alliance of KDP and PUK after the elections which may have came about for shaping the government, discussing this point is not to say that KDP and PUK as two political parties have no differences, but we would like to mention that KDP and PUK for the 2005 and 2009 elections participated as one political aspect and the principle of their participation was on equally sharing, not like one list between "Islamic Union, Islamic league, and Socialist political parties". That means agreement between these political was based on proportions for each of them, but KDP and PUK agreed on equally sharing everything. But this sharing doesn't mean equality in reality, the scale goes to the KDP or PUK's side will be disclosed in the next election. So till the next elections, as the former cabinet belonged to the Kurdistani list, the 7th cabinet will also belong to the Kurdistani list, either the prime minister is from KDP or PUK, it doesn't matter, the government stays as common to them.
As we discuss the program of Kurdistani list, we mean by an agreement before elections, not after elections, we interpret as a program of one aspect, so as a program of an aspect which has won in the elections, we interpret the program, criticize and also mention the positive aspects, but the main point is that the interpretation and critics will be toward Kurdistani list, not KDP and PUK individually.
How the program of a political party becomes the program of the people
Interpreting the program of Krudistani list as a program of a structure or alliance before elections was to show KDP and PUK agreement as one aspect, not as tow allied parties after elections. The program of Kurdistani list is the product of the common meetings between KDP and PUK and the common delegation that has been created as one team, so the program of Kurdistani list belongs to one structure which has won the elections and currently is in the government and makes changes, announces new cabinet. This report discusses the program of Kurdistani list, not KDP and PUK individually. So, the question in here is that; how the program of a political structure which has gather only 59% of the votes can become a program which can meet demands of all the people including the ones who haven't voted for it?, regarding this question we contacted Professor Santosh Mehrotra, Director of institute of Manpower Research, planning commission Govt. of India, New Delhi, regarding program of political party into becoming the program of the people responded to GULAN magazine exclusively as "I can speak from having lived in four democracies around the world, from the experience of India, UK, US and Thailand, these are four countries I have lived in and I have traveled to 60 more countries, I want to say the following that there is no question that would be the political parties program only becomes government's program in a parliamentary system, in parliamentary democracy. In the presidential system like US, there is too much power in one hand, president. On the other hand in the parliamentary system like the Indian and British ones, the power is more diffused and that is how it should be in democracy, so this is sort of at the national level. But if you want true democracy, true democracy exists only when at the local government level. let us assume in a large country like Iraq and India, you have three levels of government, the village level of government, secondly state level of government which is provincial level of government and thirdly you have government at the center of power for instance that would be in Baghdad in Iraq, and New Delhi in India and so on. What I'm saying is for democracy for achieve is necessary that at the local level local government has a lot of power, and that is unfortunately not achieved in many democracies. For a government to respond to criticism there needs to be some intermediation between the ordinary people and the government. The first of all, I would say a very strong media -the electronic media is becoming important now- is absolutely critical the government policies should be responsive to the needs of the people. We in India are very lucky to have a very active and powerful journalism, and the media is going bigger and more powerful, so that is very good. But no matter how effective the media is, it is possible the media to be in the hand of big cooperate and big companies, so it doesn't actually represent the people and represents only the interests of co-operations, which is why I said earlier that you are most likely to be ordinary citizens or group of citizens be able to influence the government most effectively at the local level, because the local government is closest to you. Any government that is at the provincial level or in the capital can afford to be less responsive to the ordinary citizens. So it is absolutely critical in the constitution of the country there is enough power given to the local government, it is very interesting that in the developing countries like in Iraq or in India, local governments don't have enough power, while in the richer countries in Europe and in North America local government has much more power than the provincial government or the country government".
The Professor Mehrotra emphasized on the importance of the authority of Local government in democracy development process, this environment of having high authorities at the level of local government has not been provided in the developing countries including Iraq, regarding problems and impact of culture on this issue, professor Mehrotra responded as "First of all let us remember that the longest tradition of democracy in the world as we know is actually comes from Europe and North America. I'm afraid this argument about having your own culture where you hold, then you find this excuse "Oh, we have a different culture, therefore we don't have to practice democracy, we will have our form of democracy'', that hasn't really gone on very well because this has been an argument made most often by dictatorial governments around the world, in most developing countries the dictatorial government argument is often toward the government people and it is "Oh, democracy is not for us, democracy is a western construct, we have a different culture, so we don't want the democracy from the west" this is completely nonsense. And I see this as an Indian, as someone grown in a country of old civilization, as old as Mesopotamia, as old as Iraq, China and Egypt, we have our own civilization and our own culture, but also we are the oldest democracy in the developing world, and we are extremely proud of us of having democracy since becoming independent from the British rule, and we survived as a country and not broken up, because we are democracy and extremely large country, very populous and extremely diverse country, so we have the oldest civilization than most of the countries in the world, and yet we've adopted democracy as a form of government, as parliamentary form of government, the British parliamentary system, and we have got our own constitution and we abide by it, and we have military rule in that constitution, and military never ruled in our country, because it is impossible for military to rule our country, we are one of the oldest civilization in the world, but we still are a constitutional democracy, we have rule by same constitution written in 1950s. For many other developing countries around the world which wrote their constitution after they became independent from the colonizer, from British, French, Spanish or the Dutch...etc. their constitution have been re-written and military have come to power, your country also have experienced that, so this argument of "we are a different culture" is completely a nonsense".
What professor Mehrotra discusses regarding Indian federalism and democracy is the national and religious diversity, which certainly means in the multi-nation and multi-religion countries it is not possible to preserve the country without democracy and federalism. This makes India to be different from Egypt, while their independency is of few years away from each other, regarding this difference between the developing countries we contacted professor Devra Moehler, political science lecturer at University of Pennsylvania, in an exclusive interview with GULAN magazine she responded to our questions as" The interest of public in developing countries can be different, the institutions to constrain and to control the base are less progressed, and the institutions to monitor the government officials are less strong, so much of what makes democracy work well in the industrial democracies we have strong institutions that people are used to and people rely on, and that is the case, so we don't necessarily have better leaders, in US and Europe that is we have greater ability to check the power of that leader or to ever lose that leader, we have more sources of information of what is going on and the government have more abilities to organize ourselves, to object leaders don't do what people want, and we have strong institutions in terms of judiciary, parliament and bureaucracy in order to check the power of a single leader. It is a difficult issue, we have many places that are called as the population of youthful, that means higher percentage of the population are young, and young people tend to have more extreme views and they tend to be less involved in using politics. There has to be sort of limit both on the market and on the government, so you have to find a balance between the two, as you look at a lot of European countries, the smaller European countries, people choose to take some of their taxes and put it toward better healthcare and better education, and US also they do a much better job of it. So even within free market system, people can choose to organize themselves the way that advances social justice. It doesn't have to be done in a dictatorial way if that is what the people want it should be done democratically".
What is been mentioned during discussions with these two professors is emphasizing on some points about "how the program of a political party becomes program of the government in democratic systems", the program belongs to everyone and covers all aspects of life. So, the question will be; how the program of Kurdistani list can become the program of people within the 7th cabinet? Just as the Professor Moehler mentioned; through establishing strong institutions and maintaining balance between government and market, or to maintain balance between private and public sectors. And we shouldn't forget that Kurdistan region is so much considered as a youthful country, which is why it is important to meet the demands of young people, and to destroy their obstacles because they should be at the priority of the program.
Translated by: Sheban Ferhad
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