Monday, November 8, 2010

Gorran Party’s withdrawal from Kurdistani Coalition: Victory or defeat?

By Mufid Abdulla


In March 2010 when the Gorran Party won 8 seats in the Iraqi Parliament; this was their main hopes and their ideas had accomplished a considerable boost by crossing the border of Kurdistan to Baghdad; Gorran’s voice could now be heard. It wasn’t too long before the Gorran Party decided to participate in the Kurdistani Coalition consisting of all other Kurdish parties and MP’s in Baghdad. Gorran and their mass of people hoped for better handling of the KDP and PUK, so that they could deliver the message which they had promised their people in the election.

Gorran has established the blue print for political and economic reform in the south of Kurdistan. This project of reform was submitted to the KRG and their President of Kurdistan in the middle of August 2010. However, the project as I have seen it was in a local newspaper consisting of only 13 points on an A4 page. Considering the Gorran Movement spent months deploring the injustice of the PUK and KDP, it a real surprise that they could not issue a book or pamphlet on their projects! I was anticipated much better than this brief and quick statement on these issues, which were the reasons why people had voted for Gorran to be elected. My first impression is that Gorran has had a short birth and does not possess a good stomach to fight. Continuously, the good signs of Gorran have been spotted by local papers and they have analysed their differences with the two ruling parties on all issues, such as, (a) transparency about the income of oil in Kurdistan, (b) new rules and regulations for the budget of political parties and © transparency about the committee of combating corruption, while our town and cities are bleeding from it.

With regards to more and more other issues, Gorran have found it difficult to accept the reality of the politics in Kurdistan. Eventually Gorran will find themselves stuck in the middle. Michael Porter, a management guru, warned that “firms that use a mix of strategies to appeal to all customers might end up appealing to none”. Porter’s claim can be applied to the current organisation of Gorran. Therefore, Gorran has a significant reason to worry about itself. Gorran’s priorities are to the people and the striving towards the stability of a democratic society. However, Gorran is shirking its responsibilities.

At the beginning of this month, November 2010, Gorran issued a statement informing that they would be withdrawing from the Kurdish bloc in Baghdad stating that “the KDP and PUK have not made any improvements to the ruling system but they also possess the rules of the whole government for their own purposes and advantages”.

I would like to ask the Gorran Party the following question: what is the meaning of democracy and can democracy and the rule of the people be achieved within a few months in Kurdistan? I would like to remind these Gorran MPs in Baghdad that the former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher fought almost thirty years in order to get her seat in the Houses of Parliament. By withdrawing from the Kurdistani bloc, they are not only weakening the Kurdistani bloc, there is also the danger of isolating Gorran from their own people. At the same time, if you are calling for change how it could be possible to deliver change on your own? What we fight for in Kurdistan is to change the landscape of Kurdish politics in the south of Kurdistan; this is not a one-day surgery attendance as the Gorran Party thought; this is a long fight which requires a long-standing commitment to the democracy movement.

The Gorran Party also encapsulates the dilemma of how centre-left politicians can challenge entrenched centres of power in the long term. In that way the Gorran Party cannot turn political weakness into strength. However, the decision to withdraw the Gorran Party from the Kurdistani bloc is overshadowed by personal anger and hatred towards the KDP and PUK. In fighting for democracy it is not hatred towards your enemy which is the key; you have to be close to your friends but keep your enemies closer. Gorran must break with past and should not think small. This situation might hurt them in local council elections. This will not be easy.

Surely, this is not a victory for Gorran. Not everyone believes that Gorran has got it right. Gorran needs to join the crowds and not stay in isolation. The Gorran Party should adjust themselves to the realities of Kurdistan today. The Gorran Party should not act as a tribal group, but as the leader of urban people. Gorran has promised hope and changes to their people but have delivered neither. The Gorran Party is lacking in self-belief. Gorran needs to become a pragmatist.

Finally, the trouble is that voters have never doubted that Gorran’s heart is in the right place. Gorran’s problem is competence. This time, Gorran’s credibility strategy would have to look different. Gorran should be a seed planter, not a bean counter.

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