Politics & Economics

Iraq: Disputes In Parliament Regarding Changes To Electoral Law

Iraq

Changes to the electoral law have been a key demand voiced by the protesters in Iraq. The nature of the amendments are being discussed in Parliament.

Discussions revolving around the proposed amendments to the electoral law, a key demand of the protesters in Iraq, have been continuing over the past week in the Iraq parliament. Although there is a broad consensus that the amendments are required, a number of disputes have arisen regarding the specific details of the changes.

The draft law, as it stands, states that on half of the seats in parliament are allocated to blocs, while the other half are reserved for individual members of parliament. According to the existing electoral law, if a candidate receives a higher number of votes than is needed to pass the threshold required to become an MP, they can give the rest of their votes to other members of their party who have yet to cross the threshold.

According to protesters, this method is flawed since it results in candidates becoming MPs despite not winning any votes in the elections. Certain parties, including the Sairoun Movement led by Muqtada al-Sadr, have asserted that the law should allocate all the seats to individual MPs, rather than blocs, which would allow for the direct election of MPs by citizens.

Another debate revolves around the voting in Iraqi elections from abroad. Certain opponents have stated that all votes should be cast in Iraq in order to avoid fraud.

In addition, the number of electoral districts remains to be resolved.

While many of the amendments have been proposed by Iraqi experts and politicians themselves, the United Nation’s Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) has also been supporting efforts by proposing several amendments to the electoral law. Top Shia cleric Ali al-Sistani also supported the formation of a new electoral law.

A week ago, the Iraqi parliament approved legislation that will lead to the reforming of the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC). The IHEC will henceforth comprise seven judges and two government officials.