Oct. 21, 2009, midnight
Iraq's National Assembly on Wednesday referred the debate over the rules governing January 16's national elections to a special committee of party leaders. The advisory Political Council for National Security, which includes representatives of the country's main factions, is mandated to weigh in on voting in Kirkuk governorate and whether an open-list election system should replace the closed-list one currently used for National Assembly elections. The ethnic balance of power in Kirkuk has made arrangements there contentious, since the rules chosen will affect the respective groups' strength in parliament. According to Faraj HAIDARI of Iraq's election authority, lawmakers are postponing the decision on list type because they secretly want to keep the current system despite public demonstrations and their own pronouncements to the contrary. Under open lists, voters would exercise some control over the particular individuals who represent each party in parliament. If a new law is not passed, current arrangements will remain in force. The Assembly again adjourned last week without acting despite notice from HAIDARI that October 16 would be the last day to change the system in time for January's vote.