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Election Laws, Systems and Processes

On December 9, 2009, the law amending Election Law number 16 of 2005 was enacted. Then on December 13, 2009, the presidency council ratified the Council of Representatives’ Law number 24 of 2009, which includes the explanatory memorandum to the Election Law. The new law introduced many amendments. It increased the Council’s seats to 325 seats from 275, allocating 310 seats to the 18 Iraqi governorates and allotting 15 compensatory seats, 8 of which to the minorities. The new law reaffirmed the 25% quota for women in the Council of Representatives, and the same rolls of the population census were adopted as in the 2005 elections based on the food ration cards, with a 2.8% population growth to be added annually per governorate. The new law introduced the open list and multiple-member constituencies electoral system, whereby Iraq was divided into different constituencies equivalent to the number of governorates. The law also entitled Iraqis living abroad to cast their ballots.

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Legislative Elections

The latest elections of the Iraqi Council of Representatives were held on March 7, 2010. 6,292 candidates from 86 political entities and coalitions vied in the elections. The most notable alliances were: The Iraqi National Alliance, the State of Law Coalition, the Unity of Iraq Coalition, the Iraqi Accord Front, the Iraqi List (Al Iraqiya), the Kurdistan Alliance. The Independent High Electoral Commission registered more than 78,926 international and local observers. 30 international organizations and 300 local organizations were registered. 16 foreign countries accepted to host polling centres, thus allowing their Iraqi residents to vote. The three-day voting process outside Iraq ended on the date scheduled for the elections in Iraq, i.e. on the 7th of March 2010. A total of 272,016 voters cast their votes outside Iraq.

Army members, police officers, patients in hospitals and prisoners cast their ballots on March 4, 2010 in an early voting process marked with acts of violence amidst accusations of incomplete electoral lists. Polling centres were targeted in Baghdad despite the tight security measures imposed to protect 950,000 eligible voters, 670,000 of whom were members of the security forces and the army. As for in-country voting, there were 19 million registered voters divided among 10 thousand polling stations. More than 12 million voters cast their ballots, i.e. a percentage of 62.40%, which falls short of the turnout during the 2005 elections but is deemed higher than the turnout in the 2009 local elections. Dahouk province registered the highest turnout with 80%.

A total of 1,815 women ran for elections, winning 82 seats in the Council of Representatives in Iraq’s constituencies compared to 70 seats in the past. 21 female candidates garnered the needed votes to reach the electoral threshold without relying on the so-called female quota, while other 61 women won seats thanks to the female quota which grants women 25% of seats in the Council of Representatives. Al Iraqiya list won the highest number of female seats (25) followed by the State of Law coalition (23), the Iraqi National Alliance (19), the Kurdistan Alliance (12), the Change list (2) and finally the Rafidin (Mesopotamia) List with only one winning female candidate.

As show the final results declared by the Independent High Electoral Commission on 27 March 2010, the Al Iraqiya coalition ranked first with 89 seats and 2 compensatory seats, bringing the total number of seats to 91. The State of Law coalition followed with 87 seats and two compensatory seats, i.e. a total of 89 seats. The Iraqi National Alliance won 70 seats including 2 compensatory seats, compared with 43 seats for the Kurdistan Alliance, including one compensatory seat. In the governorates of Kurdistan, the Change electoral list won 8 seats compared to 4 seats for the Kurdistan Islamic Union, and 2 seats for the Islamic Group of Kurdistan. The Iraqi Accord Front in the provinces of Anbar, Nineveh, and Baghdad secured 6 seats, while the Unity of Iraq Coalition won 4 seats in the provinces of Salah Eddine, Nineveh, and Anbar. As for the minorities, the Christian component won 5 seats, three for the Rafidin list and two for the Chaldean Syriac Assyrian Popular Council. Also, the Yazidis, represented by the Yazidi Movement for Reform, the Shabak and Sabean each won one seat.

The first Iraqi legislative elections that followed the approval of the permanent Iraqi constitution were conducted on December 15, 2005, in order to elect the 275 members of the National Assembly. The electoral system worked in the following way: (a) the total number of parliamentary seats was calculated on the basis of one seat for every 100,000 citizens; (b) 230 seats were allocated for competition in Iraqi provinces according to proportional representation of electoral lists in each province; (c) each province was allocated a fixed number of seats according to its population size; (d) 45 seats were opened for proportional representation of lists on a national scale, these seats were called "compensatory" seats; (e) the quota of women representation was set at 25% of the National Assembly seats, or 69 seats.

The Supreme Independent Election Commission oversaw the elections process. Sunni Arabs heavily participated in the elections. The total number of registered voters was 15.5 million, of whom 10.9 million cast their votes, putting the overall participation rate at 70%. Participation rates ranged from 55% in Al-Anbar province to 88% in Salah Eddine province. Participation rates in Shiite provinces were around 70%, in Sunni provinces a little bit over 70%, and in Kurdish provinces around 80%. Iraqis living abroad cast their votes in 15 countries between December 13 and 15.

The Supreme Independent Election Commission announced the final elections results on January 20, 2006. The results were as follows: the "United Iraqi Coalition" (Shiite) ranked first by wining 128 seats. The Kurdish Alliance won 53 seats. The "Iraqi Harmony Front" (Sunni Arab) won 44 seats. The "National Iraqi List" led by Iyad Allawi won 25 seats. The "Iraqi Front for National Dialogue" (Sunni Arab) led by Saleh Al-Muttlak won 11 seats. The "Kurdish Islamic Union" won 5 seats. The "Reconciliation and Liberation" list led by Misha'n Al-Jibouri won 3 seats. The "Missionaries" list close to Shiite leader Muqtada Al-Sadr won 2 seats. One seat was won by each of the following groups: the Iraqi Nation Party (liberal), the Turkman Front, the Yezidi list, and "Al-Rafedain National List" (Christian).

The "United Iraqi Coalition" was unable to attain the absolute majority in parliament of 138 seats that would have enabled them to form the government and win the parliament's confidence. Moreover, the two Shiite and Kurdish allies failed to win the two-thirds majority in parliament (184 seats) that would have enabled them to appoint the presidential council (they won 181 seats). As for women, seventy of them won seats in the Iraqi National Assembly, thereby meeting the requirement that women constitute 25% of total membership. The number of woman candidates was 200.

The supreme Independent Elections Commission announced that it had received 20 serious contestations that warrant re-examining elections results. The delegation of the "International Mission to Monitor Iraqi Elections" oversaw the electoral process and examined the complaints that were raised after the end of elections. The "United Iraqi Coalition" criticized the Supreme Elections Commission for its distribution of the compensatory seats, claiming it did not observe the law pertaining to that distribution. Iyad Allawi claimed that elections fraud occurred and asked for intervention by the United Nations and the Arab League. Saleh Al-Muttlak claimed that the election results are consistent with the previous fraud. The report of the International Mission affirmed that minor acts of fraud took place but they had no effect on final or overall results. The report spoke of shortages in election ballots and problems in voters' records. The United Nations commended the Mission's report, considered it a positive report, and called on all Iraqi parties to accept the election results and to work on forming a national unity government.

The first legislative elections in Iraq after the fall of the old regime took place on January 30, 2005. Final results were officially released on February 13, 2005. More than 8 million out of 14 million eligible citizens participated in the elections rendering a participation rate of 59%. Sunni provinces boycotted the elections. Participation rate in the Sunni provinces ranged from 2% to 25%.These elections included electing 275 members of the transitional national assembly, electing the parliament of the Kurdish region, and governorates councils. 111 lists competed for the 275 seats. The lists included 7724 candidates whose names were not known to voters. Voting was for the whole list rather than for its candidates. 13 lists competed in the elections of the Kurdish parliament, while tens of lists competed in the elections of the 18 provincial councils. The council of every governorate is composed of 45 members, except Baghdad's council which has 55 members.

Major electoral lists are: "The Unified Iraqi Coalition" of major Shiite political parties, both religious and secular. This list gained the blessings of Ayatollah Sistani. "The Iraqi List" headed by ex-prime minister Iyad Allawi. "The Kurdish Alliance" composed of the National Kurdish Union and the Democratic Kurdish Party, and other small Kurdish parties. Christian parties formed two coalitions. "The People's Coalition" included the Iraqi Communist Party. Shiites and Kurds strongly participated in the elections, while the majority of Sunnis boycotted them.

Participation rates in the Shiite south were around 90%, in Kurdish areas around 85% and in other areas around 60%. Iraqis residing in 14 countries voted in the elections: 265 thousand citizens living abroad cast their votes. They represented 30% of eligible voters residing abroad. International observers oversaw the elections. Final results showed that the "unified Iraqi coalition" list received 48.1% of votes, followed by the "Kurdish Alliance" that received 25.7% of votes, and by "The Iraqi List" that received 13.8% of the vote. The list of the ex-Iraqi president, Ghazi Al-Yawer, received 1.7% of the vote. Consequently, the 275 national assembly seats were distributed as follows: The Unified Iraqi Coalition won 140 seats, the Kurdish Alliance won 75 seats, the Iraqi list won 40 seats, and Al-Yawer's list won 5 seats. The remaining 20 seats were distributed among several small lists including 3 seats won by the Turkumani list. Moreover, the unified Iraqi coalition list won 11 out of 18 provincial councils. The two main Kurdish parties (the Democratic Kurdish Party under the leadership of Massoud Barazani and the National Kurdish Union led by Jalal Talibani) won 89.5% of the votes in the elections of the 111 members parliament of the autonomous Kurdish region.

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Local Elections

The last provincial councils elections in Iraq were held on 31 January 2009. The final results of the elections, announced by the Supreme Elections Commission on 19 February 2009, revealed that the list of the “State of Law Coalition” backed by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki won 126 seats out of a total of 440 seats in 14 provinces where local elections were held. The “State of Law Coalition” took the lead in 10 provinces and occupied 28.5% of total seats in the 14 provinces. “Al Hadba List” in Mosul won the majority of seats in Ninewa and was able to secure 19 seats of the 37 seats in the province. On the other hand, 6 seats were allocated for minorities out of a total of 440 seats in all provinces. Two seats were allocated for Christians and Sabi’a in Baghdad, three seats in Mosul for Christians, Shabak and Yazidis, and one seat for Christians in Basra province.

Women won 110 seats of a total of 440 seats covering 14 provinces in which elections were held. The results announced by the Electoral Commission indicated that women won more than a quarter of seats in 4 provinces: Baghdad, Ninewa, Wasit, and Diyala. In Najef, women secured exactly one quarter of the provincial council seats, whereas, they won less than a quarter of the seats in the remaining 9 provinces. Women will occupy 16 seats in the Baghdad’s provincial council; 11 in Ninewa’s; 9 seats in Wasit and 8 seats in each of the provinces of Diyala, Karabala, Thi Qar and Babil; 7 seats in each province of Basra, Najef, Al Anbar and Missan, and six seats in Al-Diwania provincial council and 4 seats each in Al Muthanna and Salah El Din provinces.

Elections to the eighteen governorate councils were previously held in January 2005. Baghdad’s council has 51 members, while the others have 41 each.

Municipal elections took place in August 1999 in the fifteen government-controlled governorates. There were 5910 candidates for 4851 seats on municipal councils. In the three northern governorates municipal elections were held in February 2000 in areas under the control of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan and in May 2001 in areas under control of the Kurdish Democratic Party KDP. There were 155 mayoral candidates and 916 municipal council candidates running for office.

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National Referenda

The referendum on the draft Iraqi constitution took place on October 15, 2005. The number of registered Iraqi voters was 15.5 million. A total of 6200 polling stations were established all over Iraq. The voting process was monitored by 230,000 observers, of whom 666 were international observers, 56,000 represented civil society and human rights organizations and 177,000 represented Iraqi political parties and entities. The "State Administration Law" provides that the draft resolution would fail if it is rejected by two-thirds majority in any three provinces. The 10-hour voting process did not witness any acts of violence. Turnout was high in all Iraqi provinces. The Supreme Elections Commission announced the final voting results on October 26, 2005. The Commission stated that the draft constitution was approved by 78.40% of Iraqi voters, and became effective after the third Sunni state, Ninawa, failed to reject it bay two-thirds majority. Only 55.08% of voters in Ninawa said "No" to the draft constitution. The other two Sunni states, Salah Eddine and Al-Anbar, rejected the draft constitution by 81.75% and 96.95% respectively. The national participation rate was 66% of registered voters. Approval rates in Shiite provinces was 95% and in Kurdish provinces 99%. Sunni leaders accused the Kurdish militia and Iraqi security officers of confiscating the ballot boxes in Ninawa province and forging the vote results. Karina Pirelli, who heads a UN team that offers technical assistance to the Iraqi government, said that the voting results were "accurate and reliable".

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