Iraq and Gulf Analysis

Replacement Chaos in the Iraqi Parliament

Posted by Reidar Visser on Thursday, 30 December 2010 20:18

The announcement of the partial Maliki II government on 21 December has transformed Iraqi politics into something of a chaotic construction site. As of today, no one knows who will be in government or how many ministers will eventually be named.

Additionally, due to the stream of deputies hastily leaving parliament in search of greener pastures in the executive branch of government, no one any longer has a complete list of deputies. Based on lists of new ministers and old deputies it is clear that at least 20 of the 325 deputies in Iraqi parliament will need replacement, probably with more to come as ministries held as deputyships by existing ministers will get distributed. As of today, the Kurds have yet to name any replacements (and have also yet to name several of their ministers), and Iraqiyya has apparently named only around half of their 7 replacements. Some glaring errors in the way the names of new deputies have been rendered in official statements from the Iraqi parliament also make analysis of the information released so far somewhat problematic.

Still, around a dozen of the replacements can be identified with reasonable certainty, as indicated in the table below.

Name Kutla/List (Entity) Governorate Personal votes (97% count) Notes
Maysun al-Damluji Iraqiyya (Wifaq) Baghdad 560 Female
Faris Abd al-Aziz Iraqiyun/Iraqiyya (Iraqiyun) Nineveh 6,207
Jawad al-Bulani Wasat/Unity of Iraq (Constitutional Party) Baghdad 3,161 Supposedly replaces Ali al-Sajri
Khalid Sulayman Wasat/Unity of Iraq Anbar 3,710
Salim Abdallah Al-Jibburi Wasat/Tawafuq (IIP) Diyala 5,370 Replacement for Usama al-Tikriti
Fuad Kazim NA/State of Law Karbala 7,317
Haytham Ramadan al-Jibburi NA/State of Law Babel 6,193
Salah Abd al-Majid NA/State of Law Basra 9,256
Abd al-Sattar Abd al-Jabbar NA/INA (Sadrist) Baghdad 4,488 Fayli Kurd
Jawad Ghanim Ali NA/INA (Sadrist) Dahuk 3 Replaces Baghdad candidate
Muhammad Kazim al-Hindawi NA/INA (Fadila) Karbala 4,959 Replaces Baghdad candidate
Hussein Salman NA/INA (Fadila) Baghdad 4,007
Mina Mahdi Salih NA? INA (Badr) Diyala 2,511 Female

The legal framework governing these replacements is a law on replacement of parliamentary deputies from 2006. It has not been adjusted to the realities of an open-list system, and basically leaves it to the relevant party leaderships to find a replacement candidate from the non-winning candidates – in the case of governorate seats (i.e. the 310 seats allocated to governorates) it should be someone from the same governorate; if it relates to one of the seven compensation seats, it does not matter where the replacement comes from. The women quota can be ignored, but the law makes a mess of the terminology when it comes to the question of bloc versus registered entity as the relevant framework for making the replacement: It mixes up “bloc” (kutla), “list” (qa’ima) and “entity” (kiyan) within the same paragraph, thus making it unclear what basic unit shall be used as point of departure for reckoning the potential candidates for replacement.

That in turn highlights the numerous problems and indeed constitutional infractions that have been committed through the replacement so far. Of the players involved, State of Law seems to be following the rules reasonably well, with replacement candidates apparently being brought in from the relevant governorates from which ministers were recruited. Additionally, Jasim Muhammad Jaafar had been given a compensation seat so he can be replaced by a candidate from anywhere in the country. Fewer replacement candidates are known for Iraqiyya but legally they seem fine so far, and one wonders whether perhaps the new deputy reported as Abbad Khalaf Muhammad in the parliamentary records might in fact refer to Abdallah Khalaf Muhammad of Iraqiyya from Kirkuk. On the other hand, there are problems with the way in which both the Sadrists and Fadila apparently have brought in people from other governorates (Karbala and Dahuk) to replace some of their Baghdad candidates. If true, that would be unconstitutional since the principle of 1 deputy per 100,000 Iraqis would be in jeopardy. In particular, one wonders about bringing in Jawad Ali Ghanim  with no more than 3 personal votes in Dahuk!

The same problems apply to some of the replacements for Unity of Iraq and Tawafuq which have more recently joined to form a single parliamentary bloc. Already there have been protests in Salahaddin about the way in which Jawad al-Bulani, the interior minister and a Baghdad candidate for the Iraqi Constitutional Party within Unity of Iraq, was given a replacement seat for Ali al-Sajri of the “People’s Current” within Unity of Iraq in Salahaddin governorate. The same kind of reactions have materialised regarding Salim al-Jibburi, a Diyala candidate, although it is noteworthy that this replacement is not due to anyone becoming a minister but rather relates to the retirement of Usama al-Tikriti of the Iraqi Islamic Party in Salahaddin. The first of these cases, i.e. that of Bulani, not only touches on the governorate balance but also on the perpetual question of the coherence of the parliamentary blocs: Wasat had just been formed from Unity of Iraq and Tawafuq, but here the constituent parts of Unity of Iraq are quarrelling among themselves!

2 Responses to “Replacement Chaos in the Iraqi Parliament”

  1. Kermanshahi said

    The supposed principle of 1 deputy per 100,000 Iraqis was in jeopardy long before the election was held.

    I’m surprised al-Bulani went for a seat as MP, I thought he wanted to be in the executive branch of government. So Osama al-Tikriti retired as leader of the Iraqi Islamic Party? So they’re new leader is Iyad al-Samara’i? And who is the head of the People’s Current’s parliamentary bloc? Also al-Samara’i, or Bulani, or a lesser known candidate?

    BTW, has the replacement of deputies changed the balance of different parties within the lists?

  2. Reidar Visser said

    All I know about Tikriti is that he retired as a parliamentary deputy. IIP press reports still (29 Dec) talk about Samarraie as the deputy of the secretary-general of the party. There is no head of any People’s Current’s “parliamentary bloc” because as far as I know they are still trying to keep the new Wasat together as a bloc and in that case they need to all have a single leader. Ali al-Sajri, who became minister, is the head of the party (entity) as such. Obviously, if he isn’t replaced by someone from his same party then the internal Unity of Iraq/Wasat balance will be affected. However, that is the only entity change during the replacement process that I am a hundred percent certain about so far. The others relate to governorate changes, which however are even more serious since they amount to obvious violations of the constitution.

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