Iraq and Gulf Analysis

The Cassation Court Vote: A Rare Case of Iraqi Consensus?

Posted by Reidar Visser on Thursday, 3 May 2012 19:18

At first there appeared to be some good news from the Iraqi parliament today. After several attempts and much discussion, altogether 23 judges for the Iraqi court of cassation received parliamentary approval.

The cassation court vote had previously exhibited the usual problems of Iraqi politics. Sadrists had complained that some of the candidates had Baathist pasts. Iraqiyya had called for individual votes, attacking Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki for attempting to impose “political” candidates through his demand for a single vote on the whole batch of candidates. Shiite alliance members had attacked the Kurds for insisting on a Kurdish quota of judges.

So when news broke today that 23 judges had been approved, it seemed to represent a positive development. Reports that a 24th judge had not been approved would seem to suggest that Iraqiyya’s call for individual votes had been respected. Early reports said as “many” as 212 MPs had been present (out of 325 deputies altogether – this pathetic figure is unfortunately above average). If true, it would have meant cross-party support for one of the main pillars of the Iraqi judiciary.

But, alas, there are some problems in the official parliament report. Attendance figures here often differ from initial reports, and today’s number is given as no more than 165. Additionally, news report suggest that the votes on the judges often split along party lines, with some votes splitting the chamber almost in half. For example, one particularly disputed judge supported by Iraqiyya and opposed by Maliki first received 71 votes (less than a majority) but then there was a second vote due to alleged technical issues where he got 99 votes.

What these numbers show above all is the continued failure of Maliki critics to get close the magical 163 mark needed to unseat him. At the same time, of course, it shows Maliki himself is far away from reaching the “political majority” alternative his allies sometimes talk about.

Perhaps the first thing all sides should address is the scandalously high number of absent deputies. Simply filling up the parliament chamber could in itself have some valuable impact on this stalemated situation.

9 Responses to “The Cassation Court Vote: A Rare Case of Iraqi Consensus?”

  1. bb said

    Here in Australia all our judges are appointed by the executive – they are not chosen or endorsed by our parliament. Ditto Defense personnel.

    Am I right in seeing the influence of United States system in the Iraqi constitution? Another Bremer legacy? It will be interesting to see what the Tunisians and Egyptians come up with.

  2. The selection of Judges by the Executive or the Legislative authorities is a terrible system as its naturally politicized. America is the best example.

    The least bad method is for Judges to appoint each other, as 32 other nations do.

    However, with the legacy of Saddam, a very large number of Iraqi judges are incompetent, so this is a difficult issue.

  3. faisalkadri said

    I agree totally that the least bad method is to let judges appoint each other, perhaps by vote of law union members. Individual reputation is the last remaining measure which resists corruption, and it takes a lawyer to know the true honesty of other lawyers.

  4. Mohammed said


    Let me get this straight: MPs are on average showing up 50% of the time, there are probably less than 100 days a year that parliament is in session (so really they show up for 50 days of work or less), and they have a salary of 250,000+ USD per year tax free? plus expenses, armored car, body guards. And most of these fools have fake degrees purchased online from bogus universities?

    Right about now, I am thinking the gazillion years I have spent on my education was a big waste of money and time. I think I am going to take a crash course in “Lutmiya”-ology in Najaf, and I should be well on my way to living the good life by next elections in 2014.

    You know I really try to be patient and believe in democracy, but Seal Team 6 might just get better results!


  5. Reidar Visser said

    Mohammed, frankly I’m not sure exactly how much they earn. But I am not going to look it up either, because I am sure it is way too much in any case!

  6. Santana said

    It would be interesting to know the percentage of absenteeism from each group ….it may shed some light as to why this is happening….I tend to think there are reasons not to attend more than just laziness or failure to interrupt their 12 hour sleep schedule….possibly politically motivated directives that influence attendence depending on the COR agenda of that day.

  7. Reidar Visser said

    Agree there are probably political patterns to this. Have given up attempting to analyse them in detail, though, because only around 10% of those absent are identified by name:

    We’ll see tomorrow when there is supposed to be a vote on the new de-Baathification committee!

  8. observer said

    what, in your opinion, should be done to make the judiciary independent in a country that has had a history (looong history – probably 1400 years worth) of judges (or Hukama, or Wa3adheen) who take orders from the Sultan?

  9. Reidar Visser said

    Here are indications Maliki allies are unhappy about several of the new judges. They say they are filing a complaint with the supreme court:

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