2019 protests was 'rehearsal'

Politician labels plans to replace governors as ‘coup against elections’

BAGHDAD, January 27 —  A prominent figure in Iraq’s leftist movement, has raised serious concerns about the state of democracy in Iraq. In a recent interview, Jassim Al-Hilfi pointed to reports indicating the Coordination Framework’s plans to replace elected governors in Basra, Kut, and Karbala, a move he sees as undermining the electoral process.

Al-Hilfi stated, “Leaked information on the Coordination Framework’s intent to replace elected governors undermines the essence of elections, suggesting that power rests not with the electorate but with political heavyweights. This widens the gap between the political elite and the public.”

Highlighting the performance of the governors in recent provincial elections, especially in Basra, Kut, and Karbala: “While I maintain neutrality, it is a widely recognized fact that these governors have effectively fulfilled their responsibilities.”

He also discussed divisions within the Coordination Framework, describing a split between factions favoring letting the current governors stay in post and those advocating for new appointments, possibly as a compromise among the group’s factions.

Al-Hilfi views Iraq’s electoral system as illusionary: “If the Framework proceeds as reported, it would validate the notion that elections are a mere façade.”

Reflecting on the October 2019 protests, Al-Hilfi termed them a precursor to a larger movement. He predicts a surge in social justice activism, fueled by the growing disparity between the corrupt elite and the general public. This divide is further aggravated by worsening living conditions, escalating poverty, and high unemployment rates.

A prominent participant in the October 2019 demonstrations and a recognized figure in Iraqi politics, Al-Hilfi garnered nearly 20,000 votes in Baghdad in the 2014 elections. Despite this strong showing, he did not win a parliamentary seat, a result he attributes to the Sainte-Laguë formula in Iraq’s electoral system, which tends to benefit larger political parties.