The IHEC Publishes the Distribution of Governorate and Compensatory Seats
Posted by Reidar Visser on Wednesday, 11 November 2009 16:28
The revised version of the Iraqi election law only publishes the ratio of deputies per population (1:100,000) rather than exact figures, leaving it to government statistics and the Iraqi elections commission (IHEC) to fix the numbers.
Today, the revised numbers are reported as follows:
|Compensation and minority seats||45||16 (8+8)||-29||-64|
These numbers, which are supposed to reflect population increase as well as certain severe underestimates of the population in parts of the country back in 2005, are significant for several reasons. Firstly, the fact that the largest increases include some governorates that are not well represented in the current government (Nineveh, Anbar, and to some extent Dhi Qar, which has always been part of the “under-developed” south) suggests that the system is still capable of behaving with a degree of neutrality, which is a good sign as we approach the 2010 elections (not least after the embarrassment of the “lost” 2004 registers for Kirkuk). The marked increase in Nineveh’s representation was expected, and the weak growth in the Kurdish areas reflect the fact that the 2005 quotas were largely thought to be inflated – a fact that was also mirrored in the earlier debate about the Kurdistan share of the total oil revenue of the country, where the figure of 17% was deemed as too high by the rest of the government but nevertheless agreed as a compromise for the financial year 2009.
Secondly, the figures highlight the degree to which proportionality will be reduced under the new system, since the total number of compensatory seats is reduced dramatically, and since both out-of-country voting as well as minority seats – a new feature as far as parliamentary elections are concerned – will count towards this small quota (effectively meaning the exiles will count for the equivalent of no more than 800,000 domestic Iraqis, which seems to be a very low estimate). This is bound to favour the big parties to a greater extent than in 2005, since a greater proportion of the total of seats will be won in the governorates (where surplus seats are also distributed to winning lists only). Nonetheless, to some extent this will be cancelled out by positive features of the revised law (especially the open list) as well as the fact that the distribution method for compensatory seats was never particularly democratic in the first place (the seats were simply given to parties, whose leaderships decided which candidates should be promoted as winners). Also, local lists that do well in a particular governorate may still obtain representation; it is the small parties that have adherents across the country but fail to obtain representation in a single governorate that lose out (some of them, such as the Communist party, typically campaigned for a single-district constituency for this reason.)
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