Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Iraq Referendum Results

Well, the results are in: the constitution passed the referendum in Iraq by a comfortable margin. Nineveh did vote "no", but only with a 55% majority, a full 12 percentage points short of the 67% required to veto the constitution.

As for the rest of Iraq, the referendum had a 63% turnout, and the constitution passed by a wide margin, with over 78% of voters casting a "yes" ballot, and in 11 out of Iraq's 18 provinces (all Kurdish and Shia dominated areas), the votes was over 95% "yes".

While there will undoubtedly be allegations of fraud, the voting and the subsequent counting process was monitored by United Nations observers. Carina Perelli, the chief of the UN Electoral Assistance division said the referendum "has been audited, controlled - it has been done really in a very professional way." UN observers are important in a referendum like this, since they are impartial, and do not have a hidden agenda. The Americans have an agenda - they would prefer to see the constitution pass, since they think this will allow them to bring their troops home sooner, but the UN is the world body that refused to sanction the war in Iraq, and where most member-countries oppose the US presence in Iraq. The UN has nothing to gain either way the referendum result falls, so having them observe the referendum can help guarantee fairness.

As I mentioned in my last post, there is no such thing as a perfect election - here in the United States, we have over 200 years of practice in holding elections, and we still have minor election irregularities. The key question is whether these irregularities are enough to skew the vote count enough to change the result. In the case of the Iraq referendum, the turnout was sufficient, and the constitution passed by such a wide margin that nothing short of a fraud on a massive scale would be enough to skew the vote count far enough to change the result. And, it is highly unlikely that a fraud this massive could be perpetuated without the UN observers catching wind of it.

So, in summary, the vote results are in, and the constitution passed by what appears to have been a fair voting process. I only hope some Iraqis are able to learn the next lesson in successful democracy: how to lose a vote gracefully.

The full election results can be found here.