A new political phase in Arbil or a vicious circle

March 6, 2012

The new political phase in the region presents an opportunity to correct abnormalities in the current relationship between the political parties on the one hand, and the government and opposition on the other.
Looking at the current political setup, the relationship between political parties with seats in parliament seems very odd. Parties that would otherwise be adversaries are in an alliance, and parties that in normal circumstances would be allies are now adversaries.
Looking at the setup of the government, the relationship between the government and the opposition is one of boycotting and attacking each other. The two are at each other’s throats with or without a reason.
While the opposition had a valid point not regarding the mere change of seats as a truly democratic step, their withdrawal from the parliamentary session was an indication that, to them, withdrawing was more important than seeing a healthy handover that was in everyone’s interests.
This is easily explained by looking at how the parties are split. There are parties that are in government and hence merged with, making other parties seem as outsiders. This real and serious deficiency in the political system is causing a rift between the government and opposition. It is setup makes any party in power not mind the fact that it is indistinguishable from the government, and enjoy all the benefits that come with it.
As a result, political alliances are not based on ideology or on programs. They are based on being inside or outside the government. Gorran, for example, is naturally closer to the PUK than the Islamists. The PUK, in turn, could be argued to be closer to Gorran than the KDP. In an interview with KNN, Mullah Baxtyar put forward a long list of differences between the PUK and the KDP. But because they are both in government, the differences between the two seem almost minimal. One commentator described the difference between the KDP and PUK as the difference between Pepsi and Coca-Cola!
These two phenomena, the alliance of adversaries and the distance between them, are almost becoming dependent on each other. There does not seem to be much in common between today’s allies apart from whatever is the issue of the day. As a result, a real distance is created between the government and the opposition.
The new government’s era has not started on a good note, beginning with the opposition’s withdrawal from parliament to the rigid stance of the two political camps and the prolonging of government formation.
Despite this, the new cabinet could be a real opportunity to go beyond today’s politics of distance. The real distance should be between the parties and the government, not with the opposition.
This current deadlock cannot be broken by one side alone. The opposition should not withdraw from the inaugural session of the new government and the prime minister should declare that, during his reign, he will freeze all his party activities or membership from the KDP. This will be the first step in the long journey towards reform in Kurdistan.

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