MOSQUE AND STATE….Juan Cole says that “the Iraqi government has decided one of the contentious issues that was holding up the provincial elections law.” The AP reports:

The Iraqi government on Thursday ordered that campaign materials in upcoming provincial elections can only feature pictures of candidates, in an apparent attempt to keep followers of anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr from using his image to court voters.

The decision would also affect other Shiite parties that often use pictures of popular clerics in political campaigns….Shiite politicians flooded the country with posters of the country’s main Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, and others during elections in 2005, capitalizing on their prestige to win power.

Needless to say, I had no idea this was even an issue at all, let alone an especially contentious one. Consider me educated. Still, in the same way that McCain-Feingold mostly just had the effect of shifting American election money from campaigns to “independent” 527s, I have a feeling this law might not have much practical effect either. I’m pretty sure that Team Sadr and Team Maliki will manage to find ways to get all the appropriate images lining all the appropriate streets.

Still, progress is being made. And who’s against progress?

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