(By Ray D.)
The German media's 'Experten' warned us. They knew it all along: Iraq's new government is destined to be dominated by Shiite religious zealots. America's high-handed, utopian hopes for democracy were doomed to end in a dark theocracy of Mullahs from the very start.
What? You don't believe Germany's elite? Die Experten were wrong you say? Well you'd better have a look at this Mein Freund: N24, one of Germany's largest cable news networks, is confirming the worst fears of the lucid and noble German left:
N24: "Shiites win parliamentary elections in Iraq: The Shiite Alliance has probably achieved the absolute majority in the Iraqi elections. With that they could govern the land alone. Continued..."
You see...they told us so. What's that...errrrr...
Whoops! It turns out that our 'Experten' were not right after all...The amazing thing about this headline is that a purportedly professional news agency, N24, has managed to make two glaring factual errors in just two sentences on their homepage.
First off, the Shiites did NOT win the absolute majority, they won around 48% of the vote, which gives them a plurality, not a majority. Ironically, the N24 article accompanying the above headline explicitly points out the fact that the headline is wrong, stating that the Shiite Alliance received 48.2% of the vote.
Secondly, and more importantly, N24 completely fails to recognize the fact that the Shiites' 48% result does not come even remotely close to the two-thirds majority they would need to control the 275-member National Assembly. So there is absolutely no way that the Shiite faction "could govern the land alone." In order to govern, they will need to form a coalition with at least one other party.
N24's assertion that the Shiites "could govern the country alone" is so far removed from reality that one has to wonder whether the network's editors are misinformed, uninformed or simply maliciously bad journalists. They certainly are not professionals.
Looks like the self-fulfilling prophecy just blew up in their faces...
UPDATE: This is an email I received from a reader who makes a good point. It is followed by my response:
Reader: "Be careful here. The most basic claim on N24 is that the Shiite party obtained 48% of the vote and that this will give them the majority of seats in parliament (140 seats out of 275). (...)
And, yes, they will not have a 2/3 majority; and yes, also, the N24 claim that the Shiites could govern alone is absurd. But it seems a mistake to say that N24 made a factual error in reporting that the Shiite party has won the absolute majority."
My response: "Ok, fair enough:
I see your point. N24 may have been referring to the number of seats in parliament. But in that case, they should make it explicitly clear that they are talking about the absolute majority of seats in parliament and not the absolute majority of votes cast. They do mention that the Shiite’s may receive 140 seats out of 275 seats, but they never say that the absolute majority they refer to in the headline is that of parliamentary seats and not of votes cast. The headline the network used likely misled many to conclude that the Shiites had in fact won the absolute majority of the vote. At the very best, this is sloppy journalism.
Of course on the second point, we agree that N24's claim that the Shiites could rule alone is just dead wrong. Thanks for your input."