Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Kurdish parliamentarian Mahmoud Othman recently said that there would be an increase in the top positions in Iraq, and that those would be divided along ethnosectarian lines. First, Maliki told the press that there would be 39 ministries this time, up from 37, and three deputy prime ministers instead of two as in the previous administration. One new office would be the Ministry of National Reconciliation, while the deputy premiers would be given responsibility for the economy, energy, and services. Mahmoud Othman, a senior lawmaker of the Kurdish Coalition also noted that the top jobs would be distributed not just by the point system that had been created, but also on an ethnosectarian basis and to balance the various political parties.
Since the new government will be a national unity one, all of the winning parties are expected to get a spot, which means there is a great demand for ministries, offices, and deputies. The easiest way to accommodate them is to create new positions whether they’re needed or not. There are already three ministers without portfolio for example, and a Ministry of National Dialogue and a Minister of Civil Society, which would make a new Ministry of National Reconciliation redundant. Giving all the winning parties a seat at the table, and more importantly, a ministry to dish out jobs and patronage, seem to be more important than an efficient government. The previous ruling coalitions in Iraq were also based upon ethnicity and sect. The premier, president, and speaker of parliament for example have always been a Shiite, a Kurd, and a Sunni since 2005. Deputies and other offices are likely to be distributed in a similar manner this time around to make each major group within the country happy. This system is setting the stage for another large and unwieldy government, just like the last one created in 2006.
Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, “Iraq Status Report,” U.S. Department of State, 11/17/10
Elaph, Al-Hayat, Al-Zaman, Al-Mada, “Maliki, To Be Officially Designated To Form Iraqi Government, Is Already In Action,” MEMRI Blog, 11/22/10
Ibrahim, Haider, “No minister assigned without my consent says Maliki,” AK News, 11/27/10
Saifaddin, Dilshad, “Assigning ministries not dependent on points only, says lawmaker,” AK News, 11/27/10