Iraq and Gulf Analysis

Archive for January 7th, 2011

Parliament Replacement Update

Posted by Reidar Visser on Friday, 7 January 2011 15:05

Thankfully, the numerous violations of both the relevant “replacement law” and the constitution in the process of substituting deputies who became ministers in the second Maliki government have prompted reactions in Iraqi political circles. So far, at least five cases have reportedly been submitted to the federal supreme court.

It seems fairly easy to predict the outcome of these cases as long as one can assume that the judiciary will manage to resist attempts at political pressure. Three of the five cases should lead to cancellation of the replacement candidates because both the law on replacement of deputies and the constitution are clearly violated since the seats have been given to candidates from different governorates than the deputies who left to become ministers. These are Daghir al-Musawi from Basra (replaced Hasan al-Sari from Maysan), Jawad Bulani from Baghdad (replaced Ali al-Sajri from Salahaddin) and Muhammad al-Hindawi (replaced Hassan al-Shammari who was a candidate in Dhi Qar). Musawi comes from the all-Shiite Iraqi National Alliance and is the longstanding leader of the controversial Sayyid al-Shuhada movement with particularly close ties to Iran; although he replaces someone who is from “Hizbollah in Iraq” with similarly close connections to Iran, the two formed a unified political entity in the March 2010 elections and are technically part of ISCI. Bulani is of course from Unity of Iraq but from a different sub-entity (the Constitutional Party) than Sajri, whereas both Hindawi and Shammari are from Fadila, meaning the intra-list dynamics will be unaffected either way in that case. But these replacements are likely to be invalidated by the court since the governorate balance gets affected and since the only exceptions to the principle of upholding the governorate quotas in the “replacement law” relate to 1.) cases where all the candidates of a list already have a seat in parliament; and 2.) cases where one of the seven compensation seats are being replaced. Additionally, this same logic should relate to two more cases not mentioned as having reached the federal supreme court yet, those of Jawad Ghanim Ali (a Sadrist who apparently was a candidate in Dahuk) and Salim al-Jibburi (who has taken a Salahaddin seat even though he was a Diyala candidate).

Two other reported cases are likely to be thrown out. There have been challenges to the seats given to Abdallah Khalaf Muhammad (Iraqiyya in Kirkuk) and Fuad Kazim al-Dawraki (State of Law in Karbala) from others within these alliances that got a higher number of personal votes. However, the number of personal votes has moral rather than legal significance in this case. The Iraqi elections commission previously attempted to introduce rules for computing the compensatory seats that would take into account personal votes and thereby make the system more in harmony with the open-list logic adopted in the revised elections law in 2009. However, on this they were overruled by the party leaderships and similarly no revised version of the “replacement law” better attuned to the open-list logic has been adopted. Accordingly, as of today, the party leaderships can decide the replacements themselves as long as they stick to the same governorate, as has been done in these two cases.

Meanwhile, these important questions have no chance of breaking through the Western mainstream media’s preferred dichotomy of Muqtada=bad; everything else=the charming wonders of Iraq’s interesting democracy. Today, enlisting the assistance of a “special correspondent”, the prestigious Washington Post wants us to believe that “Parliament met on 10 of the past 11 days to debate a national budget, nominees to head security ministries and other weighty topics”! The truth of the matter is that parliament hasn’t met since 27 December and won’t meet again until Sunday (9 January), but who are we to disturb the exciting narrative of the epic battle between Muqtada al-Sadr and the energetic US-sponsored democrats of the new Iraq?

Posted in Iraq parliament membership, Iraq's 2010 parliamentary election, Iraqi constitutional issues | 13 Comments »