Politics of Iraq
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Politics of Iraq takes place in a framework of a more or less federal parliamentary representative democratic republic, whereby the Prime Minister of Iraq is the head of government, and of a pluriform multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the National Assembly of Iraq. Politics of Iraq includes the social relations involving authority or power in Iraq. Before the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, the Ba'ath Party officially ruled. The occupation yielded to an interim Iraqi constitution, which was replaced by a permanent constitution following approval in a referendum held on October 15, 2005.
The Prime Minister of Iraq is Nouri al-Maliki, who holds most of the executive authority and appoints the cabinet. The current President of Iraq is Jalal Talabani, who serves in a largely figurehead capacity, with few powers. The Vice-Presidents are Tariq al-Hashimi and Adel Abdul Mehdi, deputy leader of SCIRI, the largest party in the Iraqi National Assembly.
 Ba'athist rule
Before the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, the Ba'ath Party officially ruled Iraq through a nine-member Revolutionary Command Council, which enacted legislation by decree. The RCC's president (chief of state and supreme commander of the armed forces) was elected by a two-thirds majority of the RCC. A Council of Ministers (cabinet), appointed by the RCC, had administrative and some legislative responsibilities. The Vice-President of Iraq was Taha Yassin Ramadan.
A 250-member National Assembly consisting of 220 elected by popular vote who serve a four year term, and 30 appointed by the president to represent the three northern provinces, was last elected in March 2000. Iraq is divided into 18 provinces, each headed by a governor with extensive administrative powers.
Iraq's judicial system during Saddam's rule was based on the French model introduced during Ottoman rule and had three types of lower courts--civil, religious, and special. Special courts try broadly defined national security cases. An appellate court system and the court of cassation (court of last recourse) complete the judicial structure.
Under Ba'athist rule the legal system was arbitrary and brutal. Iraqis were subject to death by hand grenades detonated in shirt pockets. Suspects could have arms summarily broken, fingers, tongues and ears cut off.
From April 2003 to June 28, 2004, Iraq was under occupation following the ousting of the Ba'ath Party and President Saddam Hussein. 130,000 American soldiers as well as few thousand other troops from various countries still occupy the nation of Iraq presently. After the overthrow, a power vacuum emerged, which remains in some form till this day, with terrorists and insurgents attacking civilian targets and battling against coalition forces and newly-formed Iraqi institutions in some pockets, hampering the emergence of post-war stability. The occupation was led by the coalition's Civil Administrator, L. Paul Bremer, until mid-2004. An Interim Iraq Governing Council was also appointed by the coalition with a monthly rotating interim presidency. The Council in turn appointed a cabinet of ministers and other officials.
 Return of sovereignty
The path to full sovereignty for Iraq was a gradual one:
- On November 15 2003 an agreement was released spelling out Iraq's path to sovereignty.
- On March 8 2004 an interim constitution, the Law of Administration for the State of Iraq for the Transitional Period was approved by the governing council, which further expanded on the structure established the proceeding November.
- Prior to April, 2004 U. S. government officials referring to the transition date Iraq had used the language "sovereignty" or "full sovereignty." For example, on March 15, 2004 U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage stated  that on June 30, "the Iraqi interim government will assume full sovereignty and the United States will open a diplomatic mission in Baghdad, the largest U.S. mission anywhere in the world."
- On 28 June 2004, the Coalition Provisional Authority dissolved and full governmental authority was transferred to the sovereign Iraqi Interim Government (IIG).
A few have asserted that the term "return of sovereignty" stems from a flawed understanding of international law: according to these individuals, sovereignty is vested in the people of Iraq, independently from the formal structure of the state.  The commonly-accepted meaning of the phrase, however, is the return, by one political agency to another, the exclusive rights to exercise supreme authority over a geographic region and group of people. Regardless, Iraq was set on a direct path to full democratic elections in January and December of 2005.
 Interim period
In November 2003 the coalition announced plans to turn over sovereignty to an interim Iraqi government by mid-2004. The actual transfer of sovereignty occurred on June 28 2004. The interim president was Sheikh Ghazi Mashal Ajil al-Yawer, and the interim prime minister Iyad Allawi.
Under the interim Iraqi constitution, signed March 2004, the country's executive branch is now led by a three-person presidential council. The election system for the council effectively ensures that all three of Iraq's major religious groups are represented. The constitution also includes basic freedoms like freedom of religion, speech, and assembly, and in many ways has been hailed as more liberal than the U.S. constitution. Controversially, however, it states that all laws that were in effect on the transfer date cannot be repealed. Furthermore, since the coalition forces are currently an official occupying power under the United Nations, Coalition troops can remain in control of the country indefinitely despite the transfer of sovereignty. Since Iraqi forces are currently considered ill-equipped to police and secure the country, it is expected that coalition troops will remain in the country for many years to come.
Part of the proposed system (holding regional caucuses which then elect national leaders) was rejected by Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, which resulted in massive peaceful (though unsuccessful) protests against the proposed systems. Sistani, the most senior Shiite cleric in Iraq, declared the system as too easy to manipulate to elect an U.S.-friendly government and not representative of the people. However, the process used followed closely the November 15 2003 agreement established before Sistani's protests. That agreement established the caucuses for the IIG which indeed occurred in June of 2003. The full elections for the Constitutional Committee occurred in January 2005, 2 months before the November 15 agreement's established date of March 31 2005.
 Iraqi National Assembly Election
On January 30 2005, the Iraqi people chose representatives for the newly-formed 275-member Iraqi National Assembly in legislative elections. Following the ratification of the constitution of Iraq on October 15 2005, a general election was called for 15 December to elect a permanent 275-member Iraqi National Assembly.
In November 2003, the US-managed Coalition Provisional Authority announced plans to turn over sovereignty to an Iraqi Interim Government by mid-2004. The actual transfer of sovereignty occurred on 28 June 2004. The interim president installed was Sheikh Ghazi Mashal Ajil al-Yawer, and the interim prime minister was Iyad Allawi, a man who had been a CIA asset according to former U.S. intelligence officials (NY Times June 9, 2004, http://www.commondreams.org/headlines04/0609-02.htm).
On January 30, 2005, a majority of Iraqi voters voted in an election conducted by their transitional government which elected a 275-member Transitional National Assembly. The election was seen by some as a victory for democracy in the Middle East, but that opinion is not shared by all, especially as mostof the Arab Sunnis boycotted the vote. Seymour Hersh has reported that there was an effort by the U.S. government to shift funds and other resources to Allawi and that there may have been similar under-the-table dealings by other parties. Although he did not get the most seats in the Iraqi Congress, Allawi's delegation jumped from a projected 3-4% of the vote to 14% of the vote, giving him power in the writing of the Constitution.
The Iraqi Assembly would:
- Serve as Iraq's national legislature. It has named a Presidency Council, consisting of a President and two Vice Presidents. (By unanimous agreement, the Presidency Council will appoint a Prime Minister and, on his recommendation, cabinet ministers.)
- Draft Iraq's new constitution. This constitution was presented to the Iraqi people for their approval in a national referendum in October 2005. Under the new constitution, Iraq would elect a permanent government in December 2005.
Under the Iraqi transitional constitution, signed March 2004, the country's executive branch is now led by a three-person presidential council. The election system for the council effectively ensures that all three of Iraq's major ethnic groups are represented. The constitution also includes basic freedoms like freedom of religion, speech, and assembly, and is perceived by some to be more progressive than the U.S. Constitution. Controversially, however, it states that all laws that were in effect on the transfer date cannot be repealed. Furthermore, since the coalition forces are currently working to maintain order and create a stable society under the United Nations, coalition troops can remain in control of the country indefinitely despite the transfer of sovereignty. Since Iraqi forces are currently considered not fully trained and equipped to police and secure their country, it is expected that coalition troops will remain until Iraqi forces no longer require their support. However, these rules will be set aside once the Transitional National Assembly is seated.
On 5 April 2005, the Iraqi National Assembly appointed Jalal Talabani, a prominent Kurdish leader, President. It also appointed Adel Abdul Mehdi, a Shiite Arab, and Ghazi al-Yawar, the former Interim President and a Sunni Arab, as Vice Presidents. Ibrahim al-Jaafari a Shiite, whose United Iraq Alliance Party won the largest share of the vote, was appointed the new Prime Minister of Iraq. Most power is vested in him. The new government was faced with two major tasks. The first is to attempt to rein in a violent insurgency, which has blighted the country in recent months, killing many Iraqi civilians and officials as well as a number of U.S. troops. (As of mid-2005, approximately 135,000 American troops remain in Iraq with 2,214 U.S. soldiers killed). The second major task was to re-engage in the writing of a new Iraqi constitution, as outlined above, to replace the Iraqi transitional constitution of 2004.
After the elections in December 2005, where 76,4% of registered voters participated, the Iraqi government is considered by many international governments to be a legitimate government. According to the U.S. administration, the judiciary in Iraq operates under the primacy of rule of law, so war criminals from the totalitarian regime of Saddam Hussein will get a fair and open trial, in which their rights will be subjected to due process and be protected by the scrutiny of a free press, the requirements of modern court proceedings.
 Hierarchy of future Iraqi national government
- President heading the Presidency Council
- Vice President
- Vice President
- Prime Minister
- Council of Ministers
- President of National Assembly
- Deputy President
- Deputy President
- National Assembly
- Higher Judicial Council
- Federal Supreme Court
- Court of Cassation
- Courts of Appeal
- Central Criminal Court
- Federal Supreme Court
 Independent Associations
- Central Bank of Iraq
- Iraqi Postal Service
- National Office of Endowments
 Present executive branch
|Main office holders|
|President of Iraq||Jalal Talabani||YNK||7 April 2005|
|Vice-president of Iraq||Tariq al-Hashimi||Iraqi Islamic Party||22 April 2006|
|Adel Abdul Mahdi||SCIRI||22 April 2006|
|Prime Minister of Iraq||Nouri al-Maliki||Dawa||20 May 2006|
The president serves in a largely figurehead capacity, with few powers. The Prime Minister of Iraq holds most of the actual executive authority and is required to appoint a cabinet. All three were appointed in April 2005 after elections which saw political differences papered over by ethnic unity (and inter-ethnic divisions).
 Legislative branch
The Constitution includes a bicameral legislative body: the Parliament of Iraq. The lower house is the Council of Representatives:. which consists of 275 members known as 'Members of Parliament' elected nation wide in the existing National Assembly constituencies. The Speaker will be elected by the House. The upper house is the Council of Union:. This would give equal representation to the ethnicities in Iraq. The members would be known as 'senators'. The Senate shall have an equal number of senators from Sunni Senatorial Districts, Kurdish Senatorial Districts and Shia Senatorial Districts. There shall be 50 senators from each division, thus a total of 150 senators. The President of the Senate will be a Vice President in the Presidency Council chosen by the President.
The Senate will produce three sets of nominations for the Presidency Council and the House of Deputies shall vote on which nomination to elect. The House will have supremacy in financial matters in which the Senate cannot defeat a bill passed by the House and may only delay and propose amendments for 30 days. In other matters the Senate has delaying power of 2 years. The Senate alone can confirm treaties and appointments to federal agencies and departments, high ranking military positions and Justices of the Supreme Court.
 Political parties and elections
- The following election results include names of political parties. See for additional information about parties the List of political parties in Iraq. An overview on elections and election results is included in Elections in Iraq.
|Alliances and parties||Votes||%||Seats||Gain/ loss|
|United Iraqi Alliance||5,021,137||41.2||128||-12|
|Democratic Patriotic Alliance of Kurdistan||2,642,172||21.7||53||-22|
|Iraqi Accord Front||1,840,216||15.1||44||+44|
|Iraqi National List||977,325||8.0||25||-15|
|Iraqi National Dialogue Front||499,963||4.1||11||+11|
|Kurdistan Islamic Union||157,688||1.3||5||+5|
|The Upholders of the Message (Al-Risaliyun)||145,028||1.2||2||+2|
|Reconciliation and Liberation Bloc||129,847||1.1||3||+2|
|Mithal al-Alusi List||32,245||0.3||1||+1|
|Yazidi Movement for Reform and Progress||21,908||0.2||1||+1|
|National Independent Cadres and Elites||0||-3|
|Islamic Action Organization In Iraq - Central Command||0||-2|
|National Democratic Alliance||0||-1|
|Total (turnout 79.6 %)||12,396,631||275|
- More info: Iraqi legislative election, December 2005
 See also