Saturday, September 30, 2006

Iraqi public seems to want strong central government, not “looser confederation.” / Suggestions for federalism poll

A recent poll by the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) said that "Iraqis appear to agree on having a strong central government rather than changing the present system in favor of a looser confederation. Asked whether 'the new Iraqi system of government grants the central government too much power, too little power, or about the right amount of power,' only 37 percent overall say that it grants too much power." [1]

I'm not sure what this says about the Iraqi public's attitude about federalism, however, especially as a possible solution to the sectarian violence. I hope that PIPA wasn’t connecting the term "confederation" with federalism.

PIPA also pointed out that 42% of Kurds in their poll said they thought that the central government had too little power. I believe this would mean that they would favor a stronger central government. However, to interpret this opinion as saying that Kurds are opposed to federalism would not seem to be correct given the existence of semi-autonomous Kurdistan, the Kurds' living embodiment of a type of federalism.

And if these 42% of Kurds do not oppose federalism, then it would seem that the non-Kurdish Iraqis in the poll who seemed to favor a strong central government would not necessarily oppose federalism either. They very well could, but that impression should not be taken from the data given in the PIPA poll.

The desire of Iraqis for a strong central government could also have been an indication of their desire for having a strong central government that dealt with the problem of militias. A question on whether a strong central government should "get rid of the militias" was included in the poll in, I believe, the same section as the question on whether too much power was being granted to the central government. I'm not sure which question came first.

I would have preferred that PIPA or someone else ask questions directly about federalism, especially as a possible solution to the sectarian violence. Questions might also include Iraqis' preferences for federalism or a strong central government in regards to different categories like the police or schools in their area.

Sample questions:
1) Do you support or oppose federalism?
2) For those who oppose federalism: Would you accept federalism if the goal was a reduction in the sectarian violence?
3) Kurdistan has relative peace and prosperity as well as respect for the rights of minorities living within its region, would you support or oppose similar regions being created for the rest of Iraq?
4) For those who oppose the creation of regions similar to Kurdistan: Would you accept similar regions being created, if the goal was a reduction in sectarian violence?
5) Would you prefer that the police in your area be governed by a central, regional or local government?
6) For those who prefer the police be governed by a central government: Would you accept the police in your area being governed by a regional or local government if the goal was a reduction of sectarian violence?
7) For those who prefer the police be governed by a central government: Would you accept the police in your area being governed by a regional or local government if there were a national police force as well?

source
[1] Program on International Policy Attitudes. The Iraqi Public on the US Presence and the Future of Iraq. September 27, 2006.

related posting
Iraqi parliament agrees to debate federalism bill; Peace on a silver platter. September 24, 2006.

posted: saturday, september 30, 2006, 10:32 AM ET
update: sunday, october 1, 2006, 12:54 PM ET

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