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Politics of Iraq

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Title: Politics of Iraq  
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Subject: Federal government of Iraq, Minorities in Iraq, Al Maliki I Government, Foreign aid to Iraq, Foreign relations of Iraq
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Politics of Iraq

This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of

The politics of Iraq takes place in a framework of a federal parliamentary representative democratic republic. It is a multi-party system whereby the executive power is exercised by the Prime Minister of the Council of Ministers as the head of government, as well as the President of Iraq, and legislative power is vested in the Council of Representatives and the Federation Council.

The current Prime Minister of Iraq is Nouri al-Maliki, who holds most of the executive authority and appointed the Council of Ministers, which acts as a cabinet and/or government. On 14 August 2014 al-Maliki announced he was stepping down as Prime Minister of Iraq to allow his opponent Haider al-Abadi to take his place.[1]


  • History 1
  • Government 2
    • Federal government 2.1
    • Local government 2.2
      • Regions 2.2.1
      • Provinces 2.2.2
  • Political parties 3
    • Parliamentary alliances and parties 3.1
    • Other parties 3.2
    • Illegal parties 3.3
  • Elections 4
    • Iraqi parliamentary election, January 2005 4.1
    • Iraqi parliamentary election, December 2005 4.2
    • Iraqi parliamentary election, 2010 4.3
    • Iraqi parliamentary election, 2014 4.4
  • Issues 5
    • Corruption 5.1
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • Further reading 8
  • External links 9


Before the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, the Ba'ath Party officially ruled. Iraq was occupied by foreign troops beginning with the 2003 invasion of Iraq, with military forces coming primarily from the United States and the United Kingdom. Most foreign militaries operated under the umbrella of the Multinational force in Iraq (the MNF–I), authorized under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1546, 1637, 1723, and 1790 until December 31, 2008. On January 1, 2009 the U.S.–Iraq Status of Forces Agreement entered into force.

The occupation yielded to a transitional administrative law, which was replaced by the Constitution of Iraq following approval in a referendum held on October 15, 2005. A permanent 275-member Council of Representatives was elected in the December 2005 Iraqi legislative elections, initiating the formation of the Government of Iraq, 2006-2010. The last elections were the January 2010 Iraqi legislative elections.


Federal government

The federal government of Iraq is defined under the current Constitution as an Islamic,[2] democratic, federal parliamentary republic.[3] The federal government is composed of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches, as well as numerous independent commissions.

The legislative branch is composed of the Council of Representatives and a Federation Council.[4] The executive branch is composed of the President, the Prime Minister, and the Council of Ministers.[5] The federal judiciary is composed of the Higher Judicial Council, the Supreme Court, the Court of Cassation, the Public Prosecution Department, the Judiciary Oversight Commission, and other federal courts that are regulated by law.[6] One such court is the Central Criminal Court.

The Independent High Commission for Human Rights, the Independent High Electoral Commission, and the Commission on Integrity are independent commissions subject to monitoring by the Council of Representatives.[7] The Central Bank of Iraq, the Board of Supreme Audit, the Communications and Media Commission, and the Endowment Commission are financially and administratively independent institutions.[8] The Foundation of Martyrs is attached to the Council of Ministers.[9] The Federal Public Service Council regulates the affairs of the federal public service, including appointment and promotion.[10]

Local government

The basic subdivisions of the country are the regions and the governorates. Both regions and governorates are given broad autonomy with regions given additional powers such as control of internal security forces for the region such as police, security forces, and guards.[11] The last local elections for the governorates were held in the 2009 Iraqi governorate elections on 31 January 2009.


The constitution requires that the Council of Representatives enact a law which provides the procedures for forming a new region 6 months from the start of its first session.[12] A law was passed 11 October 2006 by a unanimous vote with only 138 of 275 representatives present, with the remaining representatives boycotting the vote.[13][14] Legislators from the Iraqi Accord Front, Sadrist Movement and Islamic Virtue Party all opposed the bill.[15]

Under the law, a region can be created out of one or more existing governorates or two or more existing regions, and a governorate can also join an existing region to create a new region. A new region can be proposed by one third or more of the council members in each affected governorate plus 500 voters or by one tenth or more voters in each affected governorate. A referendum must then be held within three months, which requires a simple majority in favour to pass. In the event of competing proposals, the multiple proposals are put to a ballot and the proposal with the most supporters is put to the referendum. In the event of an affirmative referendum a Transitional Legislative Assembly is elected for one year, which has the task of writing a constitution for the Region, which is then put to a referendum requiring a simple majority to pass. The President, Prime Minister and Ministers of the region are elected by simple majority, in contrast to the Iraqi Council of Representatives which requires two thirds support.[14]


Iraqi Governorates

Iraq is divided into 18 provinces, which are further divided into districts:

  1. Baghdād (بغداد)
  2. Salāh ad-Dīn (صلاح الدين)
  3. Diyālā (ديالى)
  4. Wāsit (واسط)
  5. Maysān (ميسان)
  6. Al-Basrah (البصرة)
  7. Dhī Qār (ذي قار)
  8. Al-Muthannā (المثنى)
  9. Al-Qādisiyyah (القادسية)
  10. Bābil (بابل)
  11. Al-Karbalā' (كربلاء)
  12. An-Najaf (النجف)
  13. Al-Anbar (الأنبار)
  14. Nīnawā (نينوى)
  15. Dahūk (دهوك)
  16. Arbīl (أربيل)
  17. Kirkuk (or At-Ta'mim) (التاميم)
  18. As-Sulaymāniyyah (السليمانية)

Political parties

Parliamentary alliances and parties

Other parties

Illegal parties


Iraqi parliamentary election, January 2005

Iraqi police officers hold up their index fingers marked with purple indelible ink, a security measure to prevent double voting.

Elections for the National Assembly of Iraq were held on January 30, 2005 in Iraq. The 275-member National Assembly was a parliament created under the Transitional Law during the Occupation of Iraq. The newly elected transitional Assembly was given a mandate to write the new and permanent Constitution of Iraq and exercised legislative functions until the new Constitution came into effect, and resulted in the formation of the Iraqi Transitional Government.

The United Iraqi Alliance, tacitly backed by Shia Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, led with some 48% of the vote. The Democratic Patriotic Alliance of Kurdistan was in second place with some 26% of the vote. Prime Minister Ayad Allawi's party, the Iraqi List, came third with some 14%. In total, twelve parties received enough votes to win a seat in the assembly.

Low Arab Sunni turnout threatened the legitimacy of the election, which was as low as 2% in Anbar province. More than 100 armed attacks on polling places took place, killing at least 44 people (including nine suicide bombers) across Iraq, including at least 20 in Baghdad.

Iraqi parliamentary election, December 2005

Iraqis in the predominantly Sunni city of Husaybah, wait in lines to vote during the national election.

Following the ratification of the Constitution of Iraq on 15 October 2005, a general election was held on 15 December to elect the permanent 275-member Iraqi Council of Representatives.

The elections took place under a list system, whereby voters chose from a list of parties and coalitions. 230 seats were apportioned among Iraq's 18 governorates based on the number of registered voters in each as of the January 2005 elections, including 59 seats for Baghdad Governorate.[16] The seats within each governorate were allocated to lists through a system of Proportional Representation. An additional 45 "compensatory" seats were allocated to those parties whose percentage of the national vote total (including out of country votes) exceeds the percentage of the 275 total seats that they have been allocated. Women were required to occupy 25% of the 275 seats.[17] The change in the voting system gave more weight to Arab Sunni voters, who make up most of the voters in several provinces. It was expected that these provinces would thus return mostly Sunni Arab representatives, after most Sunnis boycotted the last election.

Turnout was high (79.6%). The Bush frequently pointed to the election as a sign of progress in rebuilding Iraq. However, post-election violence threatened to plunge the nation into civil war, before the situation began to calm in 2007. The election results themselves produced a shaky coalition government headed by Nouri al-Maliki.

Iraqi parliamentary election, 2010

A parliamentary election was held in Iraq on 7 March 2010. The election decided the 325 members of the Council of Representatives of Iraq who will elect the Iraqi Prime Minister and President. The election resulted in a partial victory for the Iraqi National Movement, led by former Interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, which won a total of 91 seats, making it the largest alliance in the Council. The State of Law Coalition, led by incumbent Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki, was the second largest grouping with 89 seats.

The election was rife with controversy.[20] Prior to the election, the Supreme Court in Iraq ruled that the existing electoral law/rule was unconstitutional,[21] and a new elections law made changes in the electoral system.[22] On 15 January 2010, the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) banned 499 candidates from the election due to alleged links with the Ba'ath Party.[23][24] Before the start of the campaign on 12 February 2010, IHEC confirmed that most of the appeals by banned candidates had been rejected and 456 of the initially banned candidates would not be allowed to run for the election.[25] There were numerous allegations of fraud,[26][27] and a recount of the votes in Baghdad was ordered on 19 April 2010.[28] On May 14, IHEC announced that after 11,298 ballot boxes had been recounted, there was no sign of fraud or violations.[29]

The new parliament opened on 14 June 2010.[30] After months of fraught negotiations, an agreement was reached on the formation of a new government on November 11.[31] Talabani would continue as president, Al-Maliki would stay on as prime minister and Allawi would head a new security council.

Iraqi parliamentary election, 2014

Parliamentary elections were held in Iraq on 30 April 2014. The elections decided the 328 members of the Council of Representatives who will in turn elect the Iraqi President and Prime Minister.



According to Transparency International, Iraq's is the most corrupt government in the Middle East, and is described as a “hybrid regime” (between a “flawed democracy” and an “authoritarian regime”).[32] The 2011 report "Costs of War" from Brown University's Watson Institute for International Studies concluded that U.S. military presence in Iraq has not been able to prevent this corruption, noting that as early as 2006, "there were clear signs that post-Saddam Iraq was not going to be the linchpin for a new democratic Middle East."[33]

See also


  1. ^ "Maliki gives up Iraq PM job to rival". 
  2. ^ Constitution of Iraq, Section 1, Article 2
  3. ^ Constitution of Iraq, Section 1, Article 1
  4. ^ Constitution of Iraq, Section 3, Chapter 1, Article 48.
  5. ^ Constitution of Iraq, Section 3, Chapter 2, Article 63
  6. ^ Constitution of Iraq, Section 3, Chapter 3, Article 89
  7. ^ Constitution of Iraq, Section 3, Chapter 4, Article 102
  8. ^ Constitution of Iraq, Section 3, Chapter 4, Article 103
  9. ^ Constitution of Iraq, Section 3, Chapter 4, Article 104
  10. ^ Constitution of Iraq, Section 3, Chapter 4, Article 107
  11. ^ Constitution of Iraq, Article 121
  12. ^ Constitution of Iraq, Article 114
  13. ^ Muir, Jim (2006-10-11), Iraq passes regional autonomy law, Baghdad: BBC News, retrieved 2008-11-09 
  14. ^ a b Draft of the Law on the Operational Procedures for the Creation of Regions, retrieved 2008-11-09 
  15. ^ "Iraqi parliament approves federal law", Reuters, 2006-10-11, retrieved 2008-04-18 
  16. ^ local election results
  17. ^ "Guide to Iraq's election". BBC News. 2005-12-13. Retrieved 2010-05-22. 
  18. ^ Steele, Jonathan (2005-12-16). "Iraqis flock to polls as insurgents urge Sunnis to vote". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2010-05-22. 
  19. ^ Knickmeyer, Ellen; Finer, Jonathan (2005-12-16). "Iraqi Vote Draws Big Turnout Of Sunnis". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2010-05-22. 
  20. ^ "Iraq Recount Mired in a New Dispute",  
  21. ^ The 2005 Election Law Seen as Unconstitutional; Seat Distribution Key in Doubt
  22. ^ Iraq Passes Key Election Law and Prepares for January Vote
  23. ^ Iraqi election commission bans 500 candidates, BBC News, 15 January 2010 
  24. ^ US to surrender Iraq to extremists,  
  25. ^ Iraq election officials confirm Sunni candidate ban, Reuters, 13 February 2010 
  26. ^ Chulov, Martin (16 March 2010), Iraqi elections hit with claims of fraud by opposing parties, London:  
  27. ^ Iraq poll results delayed again, amid mounting fraud claims, Earth Times, 15 March 2010 
  28. ^ Baghdad recount throws Iraq election wide open,  
  29. ^ No sign of fraud after Iraq vote recount,  
  30. ^ "Iraq merger forms big Shia bloc". BBC News. 11 June 2010. 
  31. ^ The New York Times . 
  32. ^ "Did the wars bring democracy to Afghanistan and Iraq?". Costs of War. Brown University. Retrieved 18 July 2011. 
  33. ^ Balaghi, Shiva. "The War on Terror and Middle East Policy Analysis". Costs of War. Brown University. Retrieved 18 July 2011. 

Further reading

  • Who Are Iraq's New Leaders? What Do They Want? U.S. Institute of Peace Special Report, March 2006
  • BBC Report: Who's Who in Post-Saddam Iraq
  • Video Seminar on Iraq Coalition Politics: April 20, 2005, sponsored by the Program in Arms Control, Disarmament, and International Security at the University of Illinois.
  • M. Ismail Marcinkowski, Religion and Politics in Iraq. Shiite Clerics between Quietism and Resistance, with a foreword by Professor Hamid Algar of the University of California at Berkeley. Singapore: Pustaka Nasional, 2004 (ISBN 9971-77-513-1)
  • State and society in Iraq ten years after regime change: the rise of a new authoritarianism International Affairs (2013)

External links

  • Iraq Government at DMOZ
  • Global Justice Project: Iraq
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