Saturday, November 19, 2016

Attempt To Shut Out Iraq’s Small Parties Before 2017 Elections


Iraq’s next elections in April 2017 are for provincial councils, although they could be delayed until the next year because of the war. So far the main talk about the vote is to change the election law to favor the large parties to ensure their domination of the local governments.

There are two efforts underway to change the voting process to favor the big lists. One is to reduce the number of seats on each provincial council. Parties want to recalculate how many seats would be up for election based upon the population. One parliamentarian said that each province would start with 11 seats and then gain 1 more for every 250,000 residents. The second project is to change how votes are counted. In the previous two elections Iraq used the Sainte-Lague system that helped small parties gain office. Politicians are now calling for a new process to be used. In both cases, the large lists are trying to make it more difficult for the small ones to gain council seats.

The major parties have complained that after the 2009 provincial vote the ruling alliances proved too difficult to manage with so many parties involved. They now want to try to eliminate that possibility by changing the system so that large parties like State of Law, Kurdistan Democratic Party, Mutahidun, etc. would get most of the seats. There are positives and negatives to limiting the number of victors. The fewer actors involved would theoretically make deal making and compromise easier. On the other hand, the ruling parties are largely seen as corrupt and political failures. Bringing in new parties could start the process of either making the older lists change or be superseded. What happened after the last local elections was that the smaller lists offered opportunities for new alliances. Iraq is still a young democracy so it is still in the process of developing its party politics so attempts at change and consolidation can be expected in the future.

SOURCES

Buratha News, “The political blocs are going to reduce the number of provincial seats in the upcoming elections,” 8/3/16

Habib, Mustafa, “The Waiting Game: Iraq’s Many Problems Threaten Postponement Of 2017 Elections,” Niqash, 9/22/16

Al Mada, “Blocs considering amending the election law to exclude potential competitors and postponement,” 10/9/16
- “Political parties are preparing for provincial elections to amend the election law and restructure the Election Commission,” 7/25/16
- “A third amendment to the provincial council law cutting in half their members and eliminate the districts,” 9/25/16



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