Sunday, February 13, 2005

The Gomer Pyle-ization of Iraq Election Results

[First edit, not for publication]

ASZ's Iraqi election monitors have held back for a few hours on commenting on the Iraq elections, because as soon as news of the results broke, we turned on the water supply to our vintage 1980's Commodore 64 Cray computer and started crunching some numbers. Our crack team of beer drinkers specialists have not yet finished with the analysis, but it's already clear that results of the Iraq election may not be as they appear to be, or more correctly, appeared to be (past tense) a few days ago.

On Feb. 8th, the Detroit Free Press reported that interim vote counts stood at a bit more than four million - nearly 10 days after the election, when the vote tally was supposed to originally be announced. (Indeed, as late as yesterday, a figure of just over four million votes was being reported by the Islamic Press, with a solid Shi'ite majority noted.) Then, results were delayed, austensibly to "recount 300 ballot boxes". Note the words: "recount", not "count".

In four days, the total number of hand counted votes have jumped from just over four million to well over eight million. And earlier projections of a 60% Shi'ite list majority shrunk to less than 50% in the final tally - in other words, not a majority stake in the new National Assembly. As the AP notes:

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Iraq majority Shiite Muslims won nearly half the votes in the nation's landmark Jan. 30 election, giving the long-oppressed group significant power but not enough to form a government on its own, according to results released Sunday.

The Shiites likely will have to form a coalition in the 275-member National Assembly with the other top vote-getters — the Kurds and Prime Minister Ayad Allawi's list — to push through their agenda and select a president and prime minister...[emphasis added]

As Gomer Pyle was fond of saying, "Surprise, surprise!"

Bush Administration representatives Kenneth Blackwell and Katherine Harris could not immediately be reached for comment, as they were taking tea at the al-Riggum cafe in the posh Baghdad Green Zone, but were said to be "pleased" with the outcome of the election. Reports surfaced of Iranian spy Jordanian con man Iraqi patriot Ahmed Chalabi being seen "high fiving" a woman he addressed as "my girl Judy" as they stepped onto an 'up' elevator in the lobby of the al-Rashid hotel.

Here at home, smoke is currently pouring out of our state-of-the-art Cray as it checks and cross references numbers, and the AI module of our custom programmed software searches the internets for news archives of prior reports. The 300 baud modem The frame relay network at ASZ is taxed to its bandwidth limit downloading the stories, so this activity make take some time. ASZ's election monitoring team apologizes for this inconvenience, and will break into regularly schedule blogging with updates as warrants are issued warranted.