By Diyar Aziz Shareef:
Is majority rule a function of democracy, a technique to promote the public interest or, on the contrary, is it a tool to fulfill the interests of a political minority?
Can the Kurdistan parliament be able to live up to its name (as the ‘people’s council’) if it is permanently dominated by two ruling parties?
Unfortunately, in the Kurdistan Region the ‘majority voice’ has been shaped and monopolized by these parties. Both the KDP and the PUK have got a good pretext to control the parliament and overcome opposition voices constantly. Their legal pretext for passing all their projects is that they are the ‘majority voice’.
The ruling parties always pretend that the reason for passing laws or rejecting proposals in parliament is the public interest. But we have witnessed many laws passed despite public disagreement, such as last year’s draft law on demonstrations. There were many peaceful demonstrations and campaigns and civil activities organized by opposition voices from all classes and elites, all raising slogans and demanding, “The president must not sign it”. But, regardless of these voices, in the end the president signed the law. Eventually, on 17 February 2011, there was a major civil demonstration in Kurdistan against corruption and human rights violations.
In reality, relying on the ‘majority voice’ in undeveloped countries can have problematic outcomes because it will be used as a tool to marginalize minority voices rather than to fulfill the dreams of the people concerning social justice, human dignity and other basic human rights. The autocratic authorities only work with this element of democracy (‘majority voice’) to conceal their ideological interests or their family and personal interests. That is why many people in these countries no longer believe in the electoral process.
Recently there was a long discussion in parliament about the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) 2012 budget. All the opposition parties were against passing the prepared budget because, they announced, it had many gaps, especially relating to the oil income and other ‘missing’ incomes. But eventually the budget was passed in parliament by the majority voice – which, of course, came from the ruling parties. Maybe the passing of this triangle of projects – the draft law on demonstration, the 2012 budget and National Security Council - are very clear examples of the real nature of the democratic system in the Kurdish Authority.
The latest project passed by this majority voice in parliament was the establishment of the Security Council of the Kurdistan Region. So, during less than two years of the life of this parliament, we have witnessed three critical projects passed and imposed via the mechanism of ‘majority voice’, regardless of the ‘minority voice’ and those dissenting voices which effectively exist outside parliament.
If the ‘majority voice’ is already controlled by minority political elites, then how will it be able to fulfill public interests and meet everyday demands that are not driven by the needs of these elites? Was not the Arab Spring a very clear and effective result of this kind of bad political practice? The people in those countries have had a long, unhappy history of subjection to the ruling elites and that is why they still dream of a welfare society in which they will able to live their lives normally, free from any kind of cruelty, social deprivation, fear, political domination and other kinds of inhuman ideas and attitudes.
Diyar Aziz Shareef is a Kurdish writer, translator and human rights activist. Since 1997 he has been researching and writing about anthropology and Kurdish social phenomena and political developments. He is a former editor of ‘Hawlati’ newspaper and now works with Reporters Without Borders. He has written and translated four books about anthropology, politics and literature.