The spectacle of Saddam Hussein answering to an Iraqi judge
provides the Iraqi people with an emotional rallying point about
their recent past. But when it comes to the future, nothing unifies
them as much as the desire to participate in reformation through
Yet with ongoing violence raising questions about the prospects
for nationwide elections, some experts are sketching something new
on the Iraq drawing board. Their idea: "rolling" elections that
would get under way this fall, coming first to largely stable
sections of the country.
"Polls show the only thing a wide variety of Iraqis identify with
is the need for elections, so it becomes especially important for an
interim government that is 'selected not elected' to demonstrate
they favor moving toward that as quickly as possible," says Dennis
Ross director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
Rather than allowing insecurity to hold off elections, he says,
starting them sooner rather than later would be "one way to change
the psychological climate and balance of forces in Iraq." And he
says current conditions would allow for elections in at least 13 of
Iraq's 18 provinces.
So far, Iraq's new appointed leaders are focused on establishing
authority, with much of their initial emphasis on improving security
- ranging from quickly building a large new Iraqi army to
implementing tough new security powers.
With so much emphasis on first controlling violence, some Iraq
specialists worry that elections are getting short shrift. Prime
Minister Iyad Allawi has sent mixed signals recently saying that
elections might take place as soon as November, but then indicating
they might have to be postponed beyond the outside date of the
United Nations stipulated date of January 2005.
Starting elections earlier in secure regions would be a way to
convince Iraqis that their fledgling democracy is not a sham,
experts say, and that power truly is being put in their hands. At
the same time, they add, elections would demonstrate the
leadership's understanding that the key to Iraq's progress is
Perhaps most important, some specialists say, rolling the
electoral process would convince the insurgents they will not be
allowed to derail national elections.
"The problem with saying there will be national elections [held
on the same day] is that you are essentially telling that part of
the country opposed to them that they can stop them," says Andrew
Apostolou, an Iraq specialist at the Foundation for the Defense of
Democracies in Washington. …