Iraq parliament to resume discussions on new electoral law

The Iraqi parliament will resume efforts to finalise a long-anticipated election law by holding a vote today on electoral constituencies.

Iraq Ahmad al Rubaye AFP

Photo: Ahmad al-Rubaye/ AFP

The Iraqi parliament will resume efforts to finalise a long-anticipated election law by holding a vote today on electoral constituencies.

The parliament passed a rushed, controversial electoral law in late 2019 in response to demands by last year’s protests to eliminate the proportional representation system dividing Iraqi voters based on religion and ethnicity. Seeking to divide each of Iraq’s governorates—Kurdish, Shia and Sunni—into multiple districts where 100,000 voters will elect one parliamentarian, the law only partially addresses protester demands.

Due to disagreements over determining and drawing electoral districts, the law has still not been ratified. The public response to the proposed law has been largely negative, with various Kurdish and Sunni groups rejecting it immediately. Kurds are particularly concerned that the law will undercut their representation in many disputed territories where they hold minority status, though the populist Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and his movement have celebrated it.

Due to the many challenges of detailing the law—namely, the absence or overlap of pre-existing administrative borders and the lack of a recent census—expect the political stalemate within the parliament to drag on, threatening to further aggravate the population and possibly delay the June 2021 elections.

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