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Iraq’s New Election Law Draws Much Criticism and Few Cheers

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Iraq’s Parliament voted to overhaul the country’s election laws in a bid to reduce the power of political parties. But many protesters, who had called for just such a change, were not impressed, the New York Times reported.

The Iraqi Parliament made good on its promise to overhaul the country’s election laws, voting on Tuesday to make sweeping changes in how lawmakers are elected, seemingly in response to demands from protesters to give citizens a greater voice.

The law does away with voting for lists of candidates grouped by party and replaces it with voting for individuals, which would seem to lessen the influence of political parties seen by protesters as corrupt.

But within hours of its passage, criticism began to roll in from legal experts, intellectuals and the Iraqi street suggesting that the law might not work as advertised.

By midnight a banner was flying in Tahrir Square, the epicenter of the protests, saying: “Let them not cheat you: The election law does not represent us.”

Legislators defended the new law, insisting that they were doing the will of the protesters.

“The political blocs listened to the demands of the demonstrators and carried out a peaceful coup upon themselves by passing the election law,” said Wajih Abbas, a lawmaker from Sadiqoon, the party led by Qais al-Khazali, who is viewed as close to Iran.

The populist political and religious leader Muqtada al-Sadr, whose political bloc is one of Iraq’s largest, tweeted support for the law, describing it as a “first step on the path of reforms.”
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