Thursday, March 11, 2004

Den Beste and Zeyad both had extended thoughts on the Iraqi interim constitution. They both saw things in the constitution which I hadn't concentrated on, which struck me as more apropos than the rubbish I was on about.

Den Beste was particularly impressed by what he saw as a subtle and structural balance struck between the ethnic/sectarian factions in the provisions for an executive. Specifically, the two-thirds provision for election of the three members of the Presidency Council keeps the Shi'ites from dominating the executive, and obliges them to compromise with the other factions. Den Beste also points out something that I hadn't noticed in my rush, which is that the Presidency Council loses authority over minister appointment to the Assembly if they don't act unanimously within two weeks of a resignation. This keeps minority members of the Presidency Council from filibustering, but the unanimous provision means that the majority can't ram through ministers which are totally repellant to the minority. Den Beste believes that the resulting Prime Minister will be structurally centrist, and obviously believes this to be an excellent thing. I tend to agree. On the other hand, I am not at all sure that the Presidency Council is as weak as Den Beste seems to think it will be. It strikes me as having more of a foreign-policy and judicial-appointments role than he's giving it credit for. He lauds the independent judiciary, but doesn't into the details, which I fear will result in an excessively independent judiciary.

Zeyad is happy with any constitution which gets Sistani irate - he complains that Sistani is not actually an Iraqi citizen. I hadn't known that, but Sistani was born in Iran, so it doesn't surprise me... He also has a list of attitudes of the various factions, notes that the Chapter 2 protections are not all that unique in the region, and discusses the ambiguous reaction of the Kurds to the signing. He's happy with the three-protectorates ratification failure clause, and notes that if the Shia hate the resulting permanent constitutional draft that much, they can block ratification by the same clause that the Kurds would use.

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