the pro-Iranian Shiite bloc approved the reform of the Electoral Law

For critics and minorities, the reform limits the representativeness of minority movements. Protests have already been registered in several cities, from the capital Baghdad to Basra in the south. The marathon session concluded with 206 votes in favor and 12 against, out of a total of 329 seats.

Baghdad () – The Iraqi Parliament has approved a series of amendments to the national electoral law. According to critics and minorities, the electoral reform could greatly limit the chances of smaller parties and independent candidates to win – or at least compete in – future elections. Yesterday’s approval in Parliament sparked discontent and protests were registered in different parts of the country – from Baghdad to Najaf, passing through Basra and Nasiriyah, in the south – which were dispersed by the police.

The amendments increase the size of electoral districts, a move that received broad support from the Coordination Framework, the coalition of Shiite groups close to Iran that makes up the majority bloc in the current parliament. Last year, this political front promoted the rise to power of the current prime minister, Mohammed Shia al-Sudani, after a long tug of war with the faction linked to the radical Shiite leader Moqtada al-Sadr.

The electoral law reform project was approved with 206 votes in favor and 12 against by a 329-seat Assembly. A large number of deputies missed the final vote – some, due to manifest disagreement and others, exhausted after a parliamentary marathon that had begun on March 26. The amendments also upend key articles approved before the 2021 election and redraw entire electoral maps, drawing inspiration from the Sainte-Laguë model (better known as the standard rounding divisor method, which allocates seats by proportional representation).

Among those who oppose the reform are independent representatives and minor parties, including the Turkmen. The new system is reminiscent of the one that governed the 2014 elections: a complicated distribution of seats that tends to favor the largest blocs, suppresses 83 electoral constituencies and creates 18 seats, one for each province.

At the end of the vote, the Parliament issued a note: “The purpose of the amendments,” the text reads, “is to hold free and fair elections for the Iraqi Council of Representatives and the provincial councils.” At the same time, they guarantee “an equitable distribution of seats between the competing lists” In addition, Parliament decided to hold elections for the provincial councils no later than December 20 and not after the fact, the last ones having been held in 2009 and although elections were scheduled for in 2013, they were suspended due to political disputes.

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Written by Editor TLN

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