Council of Representatives Passes Amendment to 2005 Elections Law: UPDATED ad infititum

Posted on | November 8, 2009

On 8 November 2009, the Council of Representatives passed an amendment to the 2005 Elections Law. The amendment law will come into force, if it is unanimously approved by the Presidency Council pursuant to Article 138(Fifth)(A) of the Constitution, on the date of approval.

The key elements of the law are:

  • There will be 1 seat for every 100,000 of the population in accordance with Article 49 of the Constitution (probably causing an increase from 275 to over 320 seats)
  • Five percent of the total seats will be ‘compensatory seats’
  • Christians will have 5 seats to be distributed among Baghdad, Ninewa, Kirkuk, Dohuk and Erbil. Yezidis (Ninewa), Mendaie (Baghdad) and the Shebak (Ninewa) will have 1 seat each
  • There will be multi-district constituencies based on the 18 Governorates
  • An open list system will operate with no fewer than 3 candidates and no more than twice the number of seats allocated for the electoral district permitted on each political entity list. Independent candidates are also permitted. Voters can vote either for a list or for one of the candidates on the list or for an individual candidate
  • The ratio of women winning seats must not fall below 25%
  • Special arrangements will be made for the displaced and can be made for those living abroad
  • A special arrangement is in place for the Kirkuk Governorate

Commentary and summaries of the key provisions of the amendment law are available at the following sites:
Raider Vassar’s
BBC News
New York Times here and here
Marc Lynch’s blog at Foreign Affairs

UPDATE: On 9 November 2009 the BBC reported that the Independent High Electoral Commission announced that the election will be on 21 January 2010. However no official date has been announced and this may change.

UPDATE: On 11 November al-Hurrah television news reported that the Presidency Council had indicated that the election date would be on 18 January 2010 and that there would be 323 seats in total of which 16 would be ‘compensatory seats’.

UPDATE: On 17 November Kurdistan Regional Government President Massoud Barzani threatened a Kurdish boycott of the election on the basis that the total number of seats allocated to the 3 governorates making up the Kurdish Region has increased by a smaller proportion than the seats allocated to the rest of the country. A good analysis can be found on The Ground Truth in Iraq blog

UPDATE: On 18 November BBC reported that Vice President al-Hashimi had vetoed the election law because of his dissatisfaction with Article 1 concerning the percentage of seats allocated as compensatory seats. Under Article 138(Fifth)(B) of the constitution, in the event the Presidency Council does not approve it, legislation can be sent back to the Council of Representatives to reexamine the disputed issues.

UPDATE: On 18 November MSNBC reported that as a consequence of the Hashimi decision IHEC had suspended all preparatory work for the election

UPDATE: On 19 November the speaker of the Council of Representatives announced that the Council of Representatives would meet on Saturday 21 November to re-examine the Election law returned to it by the Presidency Council. Under Article 138(Fifth)(B) of the constitution a majority of members can send the law back to the Presidency Council for a second attempt at approval.

UPDATE: On 19 November in opinion 72/federal/2009, the Federal Supreme Court answered a request for an opinion as to whether Article 1 of the Election Amendment Law was contrary to the constitution. In the opinion of the Court, Article 49(First) of the constitution does not distinguish between Iraqis inside the country and those outside or dictate the manner in which seats are allocated which was a matter for IHEC.
Article 49 states:
The Council of Representatives shall consist of a number of members, at a ratio of one seat per 100,000 Iraqi persons representing the entire Iraqi people. They shall be elected through a direct secret general ballot. The representation of all components of the people shall be upheld in it.

UPDATE: On 23 November 2009 the Council of Representatives passed an amended law and on 25 November 2009 returned it to the Presidency Council which can within 10 days send it back for a second time under Article 138(Fifth)(C) of the constitution. Parliament would require need 60% of its members to overcome such a second disapproval.

UPDATE: On 27 November 2009 the Washington Post reported that a deal had nearly been reached increasing the number of seats to 325, leaving the Kurds with the increases previously realised but allocating most of the additional seats to Sunni majority areas

UPDATE: On 27 November 2009, the speaker of the Council of Representatives stated that the election was now likely to take place in March 2010

UPDATE: On 3 December 2009, the Federal Supreme Court answered a request for an opinion on the amount of time which the Presidency Council had to veto a bill sent to it by Parliament. The FSC was of the opinion that the last operative date would be Sunday 6 December 2009.

UPDATE: Late on 6 December 2009 it became clear that following intensive discussions, a political consensus had emerged as to seat allocation which was sufficient to prevent vice-President Hashimi from exercising his veto for a second time. Announced as an explanatory decision of the Council of Representatives, rather than an amendment to the law itself, IHEC are expected to follow the guidance given that they had requested it.

UPDATE: On 8 December 2009, the Presidency Council as mandated by Article 5 of the Election Law No. 16 of 2005 announced that the date of the election would be 6 March 2009.

UPDATE: Later on 8 December 2009, the Presidency Council announced that the date of the election would in fact be on 7 March 2009.

UPDATE: According to the Kuwait News Agency, on 26 December 2009, IHEC announced that out of country voting would take place in 15 countries: Syria, Jordan, the UK, Sweden, Germany, the UAE, Australia, Lebanon, Iran, the United States, Denmark, Canada, Egypt, the Netherlands and Turkey.