The Iraqi Parliament approves an amendment to the Parliamentary Elections Law amid the rejection of independent and small parties
At dawn on Monday, March 27, 2023, the Iraqi Parliament approved an amendment to the Parliamentary Elections Law, which constitutes a return to the law that was in force before the October 2019 demonstrations, angering independent and small parties that believe that it serves the interests of the large parties.
The session, which took place during the night, was chaotic. Many independent MPs were expelled from the hall after they expressed their opposition to the law, according to video clips filmed by the MPs.
And in a statement issued by the House of Representatives, the mother of the House of Representatives voted in its “sixteenth session…. at dawn today, Monday, in the presence of 218 deputies, on the Law of the Third Amendment to the Parliament Elections Law, Provincial Councils, and Districts No. (12) of 2018.”
The coordination framework has the majority in Parliament, and it is an alliance of Shiite parties, most of which are close to Iran and support the current Prime Minister, Muhammad Shia al-Sudani.
The law is considered a return to the 2018 law, which was rejected by the protest movement that took place in the country in the fall of 2019. At that time, the protesters succeeded in achieving the demand of a new election law that allowed independent candidates to win, as independents managed in the 2021 elections to win about 70 seats out of 329.
Thus, the parliamentary and provincial elections expected in November will be held on the basis of the amended law. In the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan, local parliamentary elections will be held on November 18 according to a different law.
The new amended election law makes each governorate one electoral district, i.e. 18 districts, canceling the 83 districts that were approved in the last elections.
Sajjad Jiyad, a political researcher at The Century Foundation, believes that adopting a single constituency “facilitates the possibility of party politicians winning seats,” and, on the other hand, will “make it difficult for candidates of small and independent parties to compete at the governorate level.”
Under the amended law, votes will be counted according to the proportional method known as “St. Lego”, which opponents of the law believe serves the large parties as well.
And Sajjad Jiyad said in a tweet that counting the votes according to the proportional method “also serves the major parties and makes it possible for their candidates who did not get enough votes in the first place to win seats.”
“Small parties will not have any hope of gaining representation in parliament” and that they will be “crushed” if the new law is implemented, MP Alaa al-Rikabi of the independent Imtiad bloc told AFP.
Representative Bahaa El-Din Al-Nouri of the Coordination Framework told AFP that his bloc supports the law because it “depends on the distribution of seats to any bloc according to its mass weight, which will ultimately lead to the formation of the government within the constitutional times,” thus avoiding long negotiations, as happened in the aftermath of the 2021 elections.