Critics have been too quick to vilify Iraqi democracy, writes Nimrod Raphaeli, but its viability is reflected in the ability of political actors to reach a compromise revision of the highly contentious Elections Law through bargaining rather than recourse to violence.
The next test of the country’s fragile democracy – “which is still tenuous and may prove to be ephemeral” – is the degree of genuine competitiveness and transparency of the forthcoming elections. No coalition is likely to emerge with an absolute majority of seats in parliament and funding from abroad will be unable to buy power.
However flawed in practice, the elections will stand out in an Arab world still suffering from an acute democracy deficit:
Unlike in the case of what passes for elections in many other countries in the region, the ruling party is not guaranteed a win. In fact, there is every expectation that the next Iraqi government will be a coalition government similar to the one that has ruled Iraq since the 2005 elections. Putting together a governing coalition after the elections is likely to be long and arduous process – but this process will be both a new test and a new foundation for the Iraqi democracy.