Thursday, December 2, 2010

Iraq’s Lists Arguing Over Points System For Divvying Up Government Posts

As part of the negotiations over forming a new Iraqi government the major lists agreed to divide up the top posts using a points system. Earlier reports made that seem like a done deal, but it now turns out the parties are still working out how the system will work, and how the points will be used.

There have been two different versions of the point system reported. The first had each list taking the number of seats they won and multiplying it by two to arrive at their points. Under this system Iyad Allawi’s Iraqi National Movement (INM), which won the most seats, 91, would’ve had 182 points. Each office in the government was then given a numeric value with the premier, president and speaker of parliament at the top costing 15 points each. The second version was dividing the number of seats won by 2.44 to arrive at the points. That would give the National Movement 37 points. The president, prime minister, and speaker would cost ten points each, the top ministries foreign, defense, oil, and finance would be four points, the others being 2-3 points depending upon their importance, and ministries without portfolios would only be one point. In total there could be up to 39 ministries this time around, up from the current 37. According to some reports, the political parties have not agreed upon how this system will work yet.

Until then, the lists are arguing over how many points the major posts will cost to try to maneuver for the most ministries. The INM is arguing that the prime minister position should cost twice as many points as the speaker of parliament, which went to National Movement member Osama Nujafi, because it has more power. At the same time, the INM has proposed excluding the premier, president, and speaker from the point system all together, as well as the National Council for Strategic Policies, which Allawi has accepted to head. The Kurdish Coalition on the other hand, is claiming that the president and premier should not count for the same number of points because the latter is reverting to a largely ceremonial position. Jalal Talabani of the Kurdish Coalition has already been re-elected as the country’s president. All of these positions are meant to give the alliances more points to use on the ministries since the top three posts have already been elected or nominated. If they can exclude those offices or lower the costs for some of them, that will give the parties more points to spend on ministries which can be used to provide jobs and patronage to maintain and build popular support.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has until December 25, 2010 to put together a ruling coalition. He has promised to do so with time to spare. The jockeying over the points system doesn’t seem to make that likely. The ministries are being hotly contested, and the major lists want as many of them as they can possibly get. It’s already taken them eight months to just get to a power sharing agreement. It’s probably going to take some more hard fought talks over the coming weeks to work everything out, so a more realistic prediction for when a new Iraqi government is finally going to be created is early 2011. 


AK News, Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, Nakhelnews, Al-Rafidayn, Al-Sabah, “Al-Maliki Nominated as Iraqi PM; Government Formation Underway,” MEMRI Blog, 11/29/10

Alsumaria, “Iraqi Presidencies exempted from points mechanism,” 11/30/10

Ibrahim, Haider, “Allawi accepts leadership of National Council for Strategic Policies,” AK News, 11/29/10

Al-Jaff, Wissam, “KBC: We refuse calculating equal points for Talabani and al-Maliki,” AK News, 11/29/10

Uragency, “Close Al-Maliki Aide: No Decision on Assignment of Ministries,” MEMRI Blog, 11/17/10

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