Friday, November 27, 2009

Parliamentary Seat Allocations At Heart Of Iraqi Election Law Dispute

After Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi vetoed the parliamentary election law on November 18, 2009, the major Shiite and Sunni parties amended it to the detriment of Hashemi and Sunni provinces. The bill says there should be one seat in parliament per 100,000 people in each province. The legislation originally used 2009 numbers based upon the Ministry of Trade’s food ration system. That was going to increase the number of seats in Anbar, Diyala, Ninewa, and Salahaddin, which have the largest amounts of Sunnis in the country, by 24 seats. When the law was amended it switched to using 2005 numbers with a 2.8% increase for population growth. The result was that the Sunni provinces lost a total of 6 seats, while Sulaymaniya in the Kurdistan Regional Government got 3 new seats when before it was going to get none. The change was due to the fact that the Kurdish Alliance in parliament had threatened a boycott of the 2010 elections unless they got more seats. At first, they were only going to get three extra seats between the three provinces of the region. The major Shiite coalitions, the Iraqi National Alliance made up of the Sadrists, the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, and smaller parties, and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s State of Law, also wanted a law passed sooner rather than later, had no interest in increasing seats Sunnis may get, and wanted to punish Hashemi for vetoing the bill.

After the amendment was passed it was expected that Vice President Hashemi would veto the law again. Now there is news of a possible breakthrough, but nothing has been confirmed and parliament is on break until December 8 because of a religious holiday. No matter what, the elections will not happen by January 31, 2010 as the constitution stipulates. A member of the Iraqi Election Commission said they might not occur until February or March 2010. Either way a caretaker government will have to be installed until the election results are finalized, and the major blocs work out a new ruling coalition

Differences In Parliamentary Seat Allocations In Selected Provinces


2005 Election Law

Original 2010 Bill

Amended 2010 Bill






















Bakri, Nada, “Iraq’s parliament passes another election law,” Washington Post, 11/23/09

Ibrahim, Waleed, “Iraqi parliament fails to reach election deal,” Reuters, 11/22/09

Nordland, Rod, “Veto of Iraq’s Election Law Could Force Delay in Vote,” New York Times, 11/19/09

Ramzi, Kholoud, “election faces inevitable postponement,” Niqash, 11/27/09

Visser, Reidar, “Constitutional Disintegration,” Iraq and Gulf Analysis, 11/19/09
- “The IHEC Publishes the Distribution of Governorate and Compensatory Seats,” Iraq and Gulf Analysis, 11/11/09


bb said...

Didn't the original 2010 law also mean the Kurds would lose most, if not all, of the 11 compensatory seats they held in the Iraqi COR? In other words, their representation would have been cut by as much as 8 seats?

Joel Wing said...

Pres. Barzani talked about the 3 Kurdish provinces were only getting 3 extra seats using the 2009 numbers. He claimed the Election Commission was trying to reduce Kurdish representation.

The head of the Kurdish Alliance in parliament said either the compensatory seats overall should be gotten rid of, go back to 275 seats in parliament, or use 2005 numbers.

I never read about them complaining about losing compensatory seats though, which were going to be reduced by 29 under the original version of the bill.

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