I think almost everyone, regardless of their views about the war in Iraq, would have seen the images of Iraqis going to the polls to elect a new Parliament two years as a positive development. Many media outlets, blogs and other websties carried pictures of numerous people happily showing their ink-stained fingers as proof of having voted – an image which should have gladdened the heart of any democrat, whether they were for the war or not. Which makes this latest report from the New York Times all the more tragic.
Parliament in recent months has been at a standstill. Nearly every session since November has been adjourned because as few as 65 (out of 275) members made it to work.
Parliament is the heart of the political process,” Mr. Mashhadani (the Speaker) said in an interview at his office, offering more hope than reality. “It is the center of everything. If the heart is not working, it all fails.”
Monday’s attendance actually surpassed the 50 percent plus one needed to pass laws. It was the first quorum in months, caused in part by the return of 30 members loyal to the Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr, whose end to a two-month boycott created a public relations blitz that helped attract 189 members.