By Ramin Hossein abadian

New Iraqi election law: Mechanisms that have changed

December 29, 2019 - 10:14

After lots of arguments, the Iraqi parliament finally approved the new electoral law. Iraqi parliamentarians approved all the articles of the new election law on Tuesday by holding a meeting.

The law consists of 50 articles that were passed and agreed upon by all the members of the parliament.

This is while that, previously, Iraqi parliamentarians had passed just some parts and articles of the law. Now, by passage of the new election law, some previous mechanisms in the election have been removed and replaced with new ones.

The law consists of nine chapters, as follows: (I) Definitions and purposes; (II) The right to elect; (III) The right to nominate; (IV) Electoral districts; (V) Electoral system; (VI) Voter resignation; (VII) Electoral campaign; (VIII) Judicial rules (IX) General rules.

The fact is that the most important and prominent features of the new electoral law lie in Articles 15 and 16. What these articles refer to is in fact a development in electoral mechanisms, which did not exist before, but now, with the passage of the new law, will be applied to all future elections. Experts and observers in the Iraqi political scene refer to Articles 15 and 16 as the “spirit of the new law”.

According to the articles, the new election law allows voters to vote for specific candidates instead of party lists, with each candidate representing an electoral district than a province. Therefore, experts believe that the approval of the articles will increase the chances of individuals to run for parliament.

Under the law, the country will be divided into various electoral districts based on the data provided by the Ministry of Planning, and Iraqi voters elect individual lawmakers instead of choosing from party lists, and have each member of parliament represent a certain electoral district instead of groups of legislators representing entire provinces.

The new law states that each province with a population of more than 100,000 is considered as an electoral district, while provinces with a population of less than 100,000 constitute an electoral district along with neighboring provinces.

The new election law requires that running for parliament individually should be conducted in an electoral district not through electoral lists, and the candidate who wins the most votes will be declared the winner of the election. Another point in the law is the allocation of at least 25% of the seats in the parliament to women.

It can be concluded that one of the obvious developments of the Iraqi election law is the change in the electoral mechanism from a list approach to individual one. This means that individuals will have more chance to enter the parliament compared to past elections rather than those who are affiliated with political parties and groups.

Some opposition media outlets have launched a warfare against the law, claiming it has disregarded the rights of Kurds.

Foreign media outlets, above all Saudi and American ones, are trying to obstruct the implementation of the new electoral law by making such allegations.

Meanwhile, Kurdish lawyer Latif Sheikh Mostafa responded to the questions raised by the matter, saying, “The multi-electoral district system is the best for the Iraqi election. One should not be trapped by some people, as the electoral law is not against the Kurds”.

The Kurdish lawyer also said, “The approval of an electoral law based on a multi-district system is in favor of democracy and people and against the current model of parties. I have emphasized earlier that all systems have their pros and cons, but the best electoral system for people and democracy is a system with multi-electoral district”.

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