Iraq and Gulf Analysis

Compensation Seats for Hamudi, Hasani and Jasim Muhammad Jaafar

Posted by Reidar Visser on Thursday, 22 April 2010 12:16

Until this week, the Kurdistan Alliance had been the only bloc to formally notify the Iraqi elections commission (IHEC) about its nominee (Fuad Masum) for the seven compensation seats that have been allotted to the winning blocs (1 for KA; two each for Iraqiyya, State of Law and Iraqi National Alliance).

However, once the manual recount for Baghdad had been announced, State of Law (SLA) moved quickly to announce its two nominees: Hajim al-Hasani and Jasim Muhammad Jaafar. Of these two, the seat awarded to Jaafar is probably the one that most closely approximates the conventional logic of a compensation seat under a proportional-representation system. Jaafar was the number one candidate for SLA in Salahaddin. He failed to win a seat, but with some 7,000 personal votes and 33,000 entity votes, this is a classical example of a situation in which a candidate failed to reach the governorate threshold (in this case 40,700 according to IHEC calculations) but was reasonably close and might have been able to win in a different governorate with a lower electoral divider.

On the other hand, as number 6 on the Baghdad list of SLA with just 700 personal votes, Hajim al-Hasani represents a different kind of compensation-seat usage. In this case, the discretion of the party leadership has been more decisive and is more clearly at variance with the will of the electorate. Hasani is of course not only the official spokesman of SLA, he is also sometimes portrayed as the “Sunni” face of SLA and as such part of the attempts to portray the bloc as a “rainbow alliance”. However, when SLA’s disposal of the compensation seats is viewed as a whole, it is probably the Turkmen ties of both nominees that stand out. Both Jasim Muhammad Jaafar and Hajim al-Hasani have Turkmen family connections, the former a Shiite and the second reportedly of mixed Sunni–Shiite origin. But before we get lost in the sectarian genetics of this, it may be more important to consider the geographical ties of the two candidates: With links to Salahaddin and Kirkuk respectively, they could represent an attempt by Maliki to enhance his Iraqi nationalist credentials north of Baghdad. It is also noteworthy that there are already several prominent Turkmens in SLA, such as Abbas al-Bayati who won a Baghdad seat.

The most dramatic departure from conventional usage of the compensation seat in PR tradition refers to the one nominee that has been confirmed by INA so far, Humam Hamudi. With his 68 personal votes and altogether no more than 205 entity votes in Sulaymaniyya, the award of a parliamentary seat to Hamudi amounts to something of a lordship in its nonchalant contempt for the will of the electorate. Hamudi is of course a very senior ISCI official who led the work with the constitution and the constitutional revision, but like Jalal al-Din al-Saghir and Rida Jawad Taqi he chose to be placed in constituencies where there are virtually no Shiites, like the Kurdish governorates and Anbar. It is rumoured that the other INA compensation seat – which for a while seemed earmarked for a Sadrist – may in fact be given to Falih al-Fayyad of the Ibrahim al-Jaafari bloc (it will be interesting to see whether the Sadrists will go along with this). He performed a little better in Baghdad with 3,000 votes, and to some extent one might argue that this could serve as intra-list compensation for the wasted “prime ministerial” vote for Ibrahim al-Jaafari (100,000), the number one INA candidate in Baghdad. On the whole, it is probably ISCI which experiences the greatest change from 2005, when it managed to capture no less than 9 of its seats through compensatory arrangements.

Meanwhile, estimates for the recount process vary, with some talking of 10 days from the anticipated start next week. Iraqiyya has asked for close international monitoring, which seems reasonable given the contentious nature of the decision to do a recount. The Kurds have suggested that evidence of discrepancies in Baghdad should open the door for more comprehensive recounts elsewhere, whereas any party that loses out in Baghdad may be expected to appeal the result of the manual count. At any rate, we are now looking at a more likely certification date of early May.

28 Responses to “Compensation Seats for Hamudi, Hasani and Jasim Muhammad Jaafar”

  1. Hasan said

    I’m happy to be the first one who comments, This is great your genetic sectarian analysis Reidar, I think sadrists really don’t deserve a compensation seat (they should’ve discussed with the ISCI their mechanism of vote distribution)

  2. Kermanshahi said

    How many votes did Faoud Masum have?

  3. Reidar Visser said

    Kermanshahi, I am reluctant to comment too much on internal Kurdish politics which I don’t follow very closely, but as far I can see he got a very respectable 25,000 in Erbil. As you know, the electoral divider is higher in the Kurdish areas due to the higher participation. I don’t know how this compares with other candidates on list 372, but it surely seems like a well-deserved compensation seat in a national perspective.

  4. Kermanshahi said

    Probably it’s because he stood in Arbil, the KDP was already stronger there than PUK (which was <40% there) and now with the come of Gorran the PUK lost even more seats. As it was the KDP won 8 seats in Erbil, PUK won 2, Gorran 2 and the two Islamist lists won 1 seat each. Faoud Masum is from the PUK…

    But it's still surprising he was outvoted by 2 other PUK members. BTW, I don't think it's possible he could have 25 thousand votes and not win a seat. If you read here: , you can see there were 3 KA candidates with less than 25 thousand votes (18, 14 and 13 thousand).

  5. Reidar Visser said

    But Kermanshahi, those that you refer to are all female candidates that get seats on the basis of the quota system. The lowest-scoring seat-winning KA male is at 34,000.

  6. Kermanshahi said

    Yes ofcourse, I had forgotten about the female quota. In that case giving to seat to Faoud Masum is even more justified since he did actually get enough votes for a seat. And considering all Kurdistan’s ex-Prime Ministers were given important jobs after reunification (Kosrat Rasul Ali (PUK) became VP of Kurdistan, Omar Fattah Hossein (PUK) became Deputy PM of Kurdistan, Nechervan Barzani (KDP) became PM of Kurdistan, Rowsch Shaways (KDP) and Barham Salih (PUK both were Deputy PM of Iraq for a time, Shaways having been VP of Iraq aswell, Salih becoming PM of Kurdistan), Masum needs an important position aswell, so he’s leader of their Iraqi parliamentary bloc.

  7. Dear Mr. Reidar Visser

    I am always read your analytical article in sites , sometimes I agree sometimes no , in this article I would like to say that the second compensation seats of INA will not go to Falih al-Fayyad of the Ibrahim al-Jaafari bloc ,Its go to Dr. Hussan Aljebory from Sadrist Movement .


    Muhaned H. Alsemawee
    Iraqi writer and analyst

  8. Ali W said

    hi reidar, INM still adament to maintain they will form the government alone. Dont you reckon its a bit reckless by them, if Maliki does not come up on top, surely the SLA/INA merger will definately happen and will take away the right from INM to take a large stake in the next government.

  9. Reidar Visser said

    Ali, what Damluji rules out is really the split premiership (which I personally agree could get somewhat messy). That does not exclude the possibility of an alliance as such, as far as I can see.

  10. Ali W said

    Reodar, I would think that a split Premiership would be the best solution, whils the other serves as deputy like Khalizad’s idea. I really cant see SLA or INA allowing Allawi a full term.

  11. Reidar Visser said

    Ali, here is a more optimistic take on the SLA/INM negotiations:

  12. Jason said

    Can you translate us a synopsis?

  13. Reidar Visser said

    Okay, here is a rough and brief summary:

    First the article refers statements by Allawi in which he expresses his preparedness to do an alliance with SLA but without giving up what he sees as the constitutional prerogative of INM to “form the government”, meaning, presumably, being in the lead and supplying the PM. He says the gist of his message to Maliki was the importance of the speedy formation of a government that would extend as far as possible to all political forces including the non-winning ones. (Hopefully this last bit is just intended to make everyone feel vaguely happy rather than a call for a portfolio for everyone). He then goes on to repeat his view that the opinion by the federal supreme court was just the “view of a single judge” and as such of limited consequence.

    Perhaps the most interesting part of the article is the comment by Abd al-Hadi al-Hassani of SLA who recently talked a lot about rapprochement with INA. He now says he expects an SLA/INM agreement soon. Crucially, he talks about agreement about the blocs generally, and between SLA and INM “in particular”.

  14. Kermanshahi said

    This guy: sais exactly what I’ve been saying, while you guys keep talking about legitimacy of Iraqiyya to form a coalition as biggest bloc the whole process was unfair from the start. If such racism continues it does not prove any good for Iraqi future.

  15. Reidar Visser said

    Kermanshahi, as already said many times, the rationale behind the justification of the new allocation of parliamentary seats was the perception that there was under-registration in many Arab areas due to the insurgency in 2005, with some even suggesting over-registration in the Kurdish areas. But more importantly, the claims made by Barzani are supremely irrelevant because the Kurds not only voted for the law which he (and Talabani!) now complain about, but in fact celebrated it as a wonderful concession to the Kurdish people (obviously because they were pleased with the Kirkuk arrangements which were part of the deal).

    The only interesting thing about this statement is that it really adds a question mark with respect to the usefulness of doing any kind of government negotiations with the Kurdish parties at all, since the record so clearly demonstrates that they will always concoct new demands once their initial ones have been met (as seen also in the latest demand that the powers of the president be expanded!)

  16. Kermanshahi said

    Barzani and Talabani said at the time it was a victory first of all to to try twist the story, because in Kurdistan everyone was angry with them and secondly because in the initial deal the Arabs wanted to give the Kurds even less. This is the face of the new Iraq, Arab Nationalists at both sides reconcile at expense of the Kurds. The Allawi-Maliki alliance will mean a fully Arab government with no Kurds in it at all and their first policies will be all Kurdish areas outside the three Saddam-drawn provinces belong to the Arabs, then all Kurdish Peshmerga have to withdraw and all local governing will be in the hand of Arabs, than Peshmerga have to disarm and Kurdistan region will be disbanded. Turks impose a 10% treshhold to keep Kurds from parliament, Syria bans all Kurdish parties, but the Iraqi Arabs have really mastered it now, seemingly free and fair elections but with a seat alocation that makes it impossible for Kurds to be significant, regardless of their size. Kurds have no interest in ruling Iraq, they only want to be in the government to ensure their rights are not violated, something which the Arab majority is now making impossible for them.

    But anyone who knows the Kurds will know they will not sit idle and let this happen, Arab Nationalists like Nujayfi, Mutlaq, Allawi, Hashemi, Maliki, are leading Iraq towards another civil war. It took 31 years for Arabs and Kurds to reconcile, I hope it won’t take another 31 years for it to happen again. What you can be sure of, though is that Iran’s interest in support Iraq’s unity will dissapear as soon as Shi’a Islamists are replaced with anti-Iranian Arab Nationalists and Talabani and Barzani will then find themselfes a much better ally than the Americans. Is this a good way to reconcile Reidar? End one (civil) war by starting another one?

  17. Reidar Visser said

    But Kermanshahi, I really think you are way too pessimistic about the intentions of the Iraqi nationalists. No one would want to reverse federalism in Kurdistan, and I think there is readiness for territorial concessions in rural parts of Nineveh and Tamim province.

    I also warmly recommend that you read an article by Liam Anderson and Gareth Stansfield in the forthcoming issue of Ethnopolitics, vol. 9, no. 2, entitled “Avoiding Ethnic Conflict in Iraq: Some Lessons from the Åland Islands”. It contains extremely useful suggestions for how the international community could offer guarantees for the Kurds in exchange for a moderation of their positions in negotiations with Baghdad.

  18. mostafa said

    Hi Riedar,
    I read a statement by a sadrist deputy saying that the asdrists got 30% of INA votes.
    So, is it true that ISCI candidates won 70,000 votes more than the sadrists?
    Do you think that there are other intralist discrepancies between votes and seat distribution?
    How do democratic countries with open list systems avoid these discrepancies? Do they vote for several candidates of the list?
    thank you.

  19. Reidar Visser said

    Mostafa, any discrepancy is likely to be caused by mix-ups of plain “list votes” (not expressing a candidate preference) and “candidate votes” (for a particular person). For example, in Baghdad, out of the 560,000 INA votes, around 40,000 (very rough count) had no candidate preference expressed. Now, to relate to your question, these are INA votes not ISCI votes! An unmarked INA ballot is just as much a Sadrist vote as an ISCI vote (or a Jaafari one for that matter).

    I haven’t had time to calculate the relationship between “passive” list votes and active open-list votes for INA in other governorates, but I should think that there may be a higher degree of straightforward list votes in places where the Sadrists are less well organised than Baghdad, and that may perhaps have produced the overall figure that you refer to.

    There is no single answer for how to assign weight to the candidate vote under a PR system, but what can be said is that the Iraqi system tends to give disproportionate influence to the voter who actively uses the open list and penalises the voter who votes for a list only. In other systems, the original ranking on the ballot is assigned weight when the final ranking of the candidates is decided, whereas under the Iraqi system only the “active” voters are given a say.

  20. Salah said


    There were an article based on mathematical analysis for the Iraqi voting/election its purely mathematic analysing each party and each Kutla, in the end the weight of wining seats are differ for each Kutla from other party or Kutal.

    So could you confirm this mathematical result or you have different answers and view in this matter?

    نسبة المشاركة تم حسابها عن طريق تقسيم اصوات كل محافظة على بيانات الناخب لكل محافظة

    76% السليمانية
    74% اربيل
    74% دهوك
    71% كركوك
    70% صلاح الدين
    62% الموصل
    61% بابل
    60% القادسية
    60% المثنى
    60% ديالى
    59% كربلاء
    59% واسط
    59% النجف
    59% الانبار
    58% ذي قار
    55% بغداد
    55% البصرة
    49% ميسان

    سعر المقعد البرلماني
    القائمة العراقية حصلت على 2,821,823 صوتا وبواقع 31,338 صوتا للمقعد الواحد

    قائمة دولة القانون حصلت على 2,797,624 صوتا وبواقع 31,433 صوتا للمقعد الواحد

    الائتلاف الوطني العراقي حصل على 2,095,354 صوتا وبواقع 29,512 صوتا للمقعد الواحد

    التحالف الكوردستاني حصل على 1,685,489 صوتا وبواقع 40,130 صوتا للمقعد الواحد

    قائمة التغيير (كوران) حصلت على 487,181 صوتا وبواقع 60,897 صوتا للمقعد الواحد

    قائمة التوافق حصلت على 302,477 صوتا وبواقع 50,579 صوتا للمقعد الواحد

    قائمة وحدة العراق حصلت على 314,823 صوتا وبواقع 78,705 صوتا للمقعد الواحد

    الاتحاد الاسلامي الكوردستاني حصل على 247,366 صوتا وبواقع 61,841 صوتا للمقعد الواحد

    الجماعة الاسلامية الكوردستانية حصلت على 153,640 صوتا وبمعدل 76,820 صوتا للمقعد الواحد

    اسعار مقاعد وحدة العراق والجماعة الاسلامية يبلغ مرتين ونصف سعر مقاعد الائتلاف الوطني العراقي

  21. Reidar Visser said

    Salah, I don’t have time to check the numbers in detail right now, but they roughly seem to confirm the picture that we are familiar with: The costs of a seat increases somewhat in Kurdistan (where participation is higher) but first and foremost it goes up across the country if you are a small party (due to the procedures for allocating seats).

    All in all, this shows how the particular incarnation of PR in Iraq is not particularly proportional, since the winning lists take all the remaining seats after the initial allocation and no measures to compensate small parties are in force with regard to what is rather unfittingly called compensation seats. Typically, Tawafuq, Unity of Iraq and the smaller Kurdish lists outside the KA managed one or two seats in a governorate and almost reached the threshold for another seat but without getting there in the end. Under a more proportional system, they would have received the lion’s share of the compensation seats.

  22. Kermanshahi said

    Well Reidar, I don’t actually know the total resulst, but based on the 95% results the seat division in a representative system (1-man, 1-vote) would ahve been like this:

    Iraqiya: 84
    SLC: 84
    NIA: 63
    KA: 50
    Gorran: 14
    Unity: 9
    Tawafuq: 9
    KIU: 7
    IGK: 5

    But than again, this is only based on the results of the 9 biggest lists, in real probably 1 or 2 seats might have gone to a smaller list. Also, if they would have done the elections like this, the amounth of votes would be different, not all lists competed everywhere, if the voting nation wide (and not district-based) these lists would have gained some votes in places they didn’t stand, it would have also slightly influenced the voting because for instance it’s not very attracitve under the current system to vote for the KA or Tawafuq if you live in Muthanna. But the main picture is that the big three would have all lost seats (because the electoral system worked very much in their favour) and the rest would have benefitted (specially Kurdish parties which couldn’t get many seats despite their high number of votes because of the seat division), it would have also possibly encouraged a higher turnout.

  23. Reidar Visser said

    Countrywide PR, which is used in the Netherlands and Israel among others, was widely criticised for its role in generating an ethno-sectarian census-style vote in Iraq January 2005 since all the cross-cutting cleavages of geography are removed and the ethnic identity is pushed to a maximum.

    It would have been possible to do governorate-level PR with a more proportional distribution mechanism for remaining seats and “national” seats.

  24. Salah said

    was widely criticised for its role in generating an ethno-sectarian census-style vote in Iraq January 2005

    It’s all put the blames on Iraqi sectarian constitutions Reidar.

  25. Reidar Visser said

    Salah, the constitution that was adopted in October 2005 can be blamed for many different things but not for the nature of the elections that took place seven months earlier…

  26. Kermanshahi said

    Reidar, the way it is now Iraqis still voted on secterian lines, the only difference is that some peoples votes have been given more value than others and some groups have been undemocraticly given more seats than others (like for instances Sunnis getting 83 seats and Kurds 57 while there are more Kurds).

    Countrywide PR is the only system where the will of the people is truely represented, in district systems some peoples’ votes are valued more than other peoples’ votes and minority governments can be created. The system doesn’t make people vote secterian, people chose to vote secterian and that’s where democracy is about, letting the people chose.

  27. Reidar Visser said

    Another very common argument for multi-constituency arrangements is closeness between voters and candidates – the lack of which was another important aspect of criticism against the Jan 2005 election. Voter-representative contact is after all a pretty basic aspect of democratic theory.

    Again, there probably is a reason why so few states in the world are single-constituency PR systems, and those that exist are extremely compact countries.

  28. Ali M said

    Perhaps a UK style multi-constituency first past the post voting system would be the best choice for Iraq, and one thing it would do is end the meaningless pre-election coalitions cobbling together the most unlikely bed-partners.

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