Members of the new Iraqi Parliament convened on Monday, 3rd of September for the first time since they were elected in May 2018. This comes after the Iraqi Supreme court ratified the election results on August 19th after the initial results were rejected by many Iraqis on the grounds of fraud.
According to the Iraqi Constitution, the incoming parliamentarians must elect a Speaker of Parliament along with his two deputies, during their first session. However, internal disputes over which bloc is the largest has resulted in the failure to elect a new parliamentary speaker.
The failure to determine the largest bloc is a result of a misunderstanding of the constitutional definition of the term ‘largest bloc’. Two camps emerged due to this dispute. The first camp led by Muqtada al-Sadr’s Sa’iroun Coalition, Haider al-Abadi’s Nasr coalition, along with dozens of independent and smaller parties, claims to have 190 MPs in their bloc.
The other camp led by Hadi al-Ameri’s Fatah Alliance and Nouri al-Maliki’s State of the Law Alliance claims to have 150 MPs in their bloc. While this may seem like an easy decision, the issue arises when approaching the signatures of each bloc. The former argues that the heads of the alliances and coalitions sign for all of the members, while the latter contends that individual parliamentarians have the right to splinter away from their alliances and coalitions and join other blocs.
As a result of this dispute, the decision was sent to the Iraqi Federal Court, and the first session was adjourned until Tuesday.
“I do not think that the senior MP has the ability to make a final decision on who really has the largest bloc, so we have one option which is [to take the matter to] the federal court,” says Jasim al-Hilfi, a representative of the Iraqi Communist Party in the Sa’iroun Alliance.
On Tuesday, the Iraqi Parliament was meant to continue the first session. However, its inability to reach a quorum forced the senior MP (who is the acting Speaker of the Parliament until one is elected) to adjourn the first session until the 15th of September.