This is a big deal: Iraq’s Parliament has finally passed an election law. Passage of the law, needed to hold the next round of parliamentary elections in January, had been delayed for months while Arabs and Kurds dickered over how voters in Kirkuk — which is claimed by both sides — would be treated. In the end, lawmakers deferred the whole issue, as expected, and managed to reach a compromise that would allow the elections to take place.
This is a positive sign showing that, for all its faults and limitations, Iraqi democracy is alive and well. Certainly the Iraqi political process is looking a lot more impressive than the system in next-door Iran, which was completely discredited by the blatant fraud in the last presidential election. That doesn’t mean the Iraqi system is perfect. American representatives, in particular, expressed great frustration with the process, and they played a vital role in pushing through an agreement. But the deal was done the Iraqi way — by waiting for the 11th hour and just a little bit beyond. Passage comes too late to allow the election to take place as originally scheduled on January 16, in all probability, but it could still occur a week after.
For a more in-depth discussion of where Iraq stands today, a little more than two years before the last U.S. troops are scheduled to leave, see my article in the Weekly Standard, based on my recent travels across Iraq.