The democratic process as it is known across the globe usually results in one party or a coalition of parties ruling for a number of years, according to the decision of voters; the process also results in the formation of an opposition within parliament by one or more political parties. The debate between these two parts — whether calm or stormy — has to be in accordance with a number of rules that maintain these differences under parliament’s roof.
Throughout, each group seeks to display its agenda to enhance its position amongst its audience and supporters and to try to win over others. It is in very rare cases that the ruling party is obliged to reach an agreement with the opposition to pass an act that cannot be left hanging because it is directly related to people’s interests. The existence of an opposition in any country — regardless of its form or size — reflects a civilised political phenomenon, which accepts political pluralism.
The opposition is also necessary to prevent a single person or party from taking over authority and to allow the people to understand what is going on behind political closed doors, especially with the existence of a constitution which guarantees a free media that is not controlled by the executive authority.
There is a strong opposition presence in the parliaments of democratic countries because these countries practise democracy in dimensions that serve the people’s interests. This is an important aspect, which prevents the transmission of the struggle between different political agendas and what it results, as political convulsions on the street.
In very rare instances, we witness the struggle going on inside the parliament moving towards the country’s streets. According to the constitution, Iraq is a federal, politically plural and democratic country. The constitution outlines the powers of the three authorities and explains its formation mechanism and the regulations that rule the functions of each authority.
The constitution allows in principle the setting up of a party or a coalition of parties to rule the country and an opposition with a distinguished programme that is different to that of the ruling party. This programme is allowed to be displayed through the opposition’s debate with the ruling party. However, that did not happen in reality over the past 10 years in Iraq. This paradox must be looked into because it has simply led to the failure of democracy and its mechanisms in Iraq. The situation in Iraq has deteriorated in almost all fields of life, however, the most dangerous situation suffered by the country is the internal fighting, in which the government seemed helpless and unable to resolve the differences because of its exclusionary policies.
In any country the opposition starts when there are issues suffered by the people in their daily lives — and those are ample in Iraq. The absence of basic services, unemployment, poverty, and the corruption of the state on different levels are only a few of the issues endured by Iraqis; the International Zone (called ‘Green Zone’ by Iraqis where ministers and government officials reside) has become the focus of hatred and contempt by the people.
What rarely occurs in democratic countries’ parliaments has become the status quo in the Iraqi house of representatives where every resolution is passed through a pact or deal between different political elites to safeguard their interests away from the people’s daily worries and pain.
The opposition forces inside the Iraqi parliament have handcuffed their hands on their own by taking part in what is called the national partnership government which was nothing more than a functional tool to paralyse the ability of the opposition and overcome the Iraqi street that is filled with banners and slogans calling for reforms that the government is unable to fulfil.
The opposition has lost its influence on the masses that look to it as a partner of the government, which they do not favour.
It is also difficult to understand how some lawmakers can criticise the government while they are a part of a coalition which is a part of the government itself.
The government and the bashful opposition in the parliament do not have a real programme to save the country from its current chaotic situation nor rescue its people.
The true opposition in Iraq has moved from the parliament to the street. On the streets of Iraq, people are near boiling point, while spontaneous demonstrations carry banners that are also spontaneous and unorganised or studied. Some of these banners may harm Iraq, as they push towards violence and chaos, especially after they have been infiltrated by foreign groups with their own agendas for Iraq.
I have previously pointed out that Iraq will only be rescued by its own people that do not have any interest in fighting each other, while the Green Zone goblins eat away at the country’s flesh.
The people’s anger expressed through their demonstrations has to be translated into a decisive resolution in the upcoming elections for new faces that no one doubts their devotion towards Iraq and its well-being.
Dr Mohammad Akef Jamal is an Iraqi writer based in Dubai.