Iraq Analysis / The Vote Itself Is an Achievement

The referendum on Iraq's new constitution paves the way for the next constitutional move: Iraqi parliamentary elections, slated to take place in December, and the appointment of a new government based on the new constitution.

The prerequisite for all these measures, of course, is that a majority of referendum participants favor adopting the constitution. But the existence of this condition is still in question.

Referendum officials reported an impressive turnout of more than 61 percent of eligible voters, but how that translates into support remains in question.

The main issue is whether the Sunnis succeeded in blocking the acceptance of the constitution based on the clause in the temporary constitution that allows it to be rejected through a majority of voters in three provinces. That clause, which the Kurds had demanded as a condition for their support of the temporary constitution, ultimately turned into a Sunni weapon. But it looks like low turnout in Sunni provinces may indicate they will not be able to block the constitution.

The Americans, who invested tremendous effort in recent weeks to obtain a consensus of sorts on the wording of the constitution, can consider it an achievement that the referendum even took place, considering it was jeopardized by both the Kurds and Sunnis. However, because of the various sectarian threats, it was decided that even if the constitution is approved, it will be temporary and open to amendment even after parliamentary elections - in keeping with a new referendum.

Hence, Iraq may face a complex political process of elections and negotiations between the factions in the coming months - while bombs continue exploding on the streets.