Still No Agreement on Iraq’s Parliamentary Membership

Of the three cases in the latest batch of controversies, that of Shuhayli should be the most straightforward one. Shuhayli replaced Nassar al-Rubayie, a Sadrist. While Shuhayli is from the same list, he ran as a candidate in Dahuk, where there are almost no Shiites and where he received almost no votes. For his part, Rubayie was a candidate in Baghdad. In other words, in this case, the law on replacement of deputies has clearly been violated since the legal (and constitutionally mandated) balance between governorates has been upset. Except, of course, that parliament has already once overruled the law and the constitution in this very case since Shuhayli was included in the March vote – and unlike in the case of Jawad al-Bulani, no one appealed the decision. The question is, can parliament challenge it own previous decision in this way, effectively acting as its own appeal court? Article 52 of the contitution just says that the parliament rules, with a two-thirds absolute majority, on the correctness of its own membership within 30 days of a complaint having been presented. That decision, in turn, is subject to a 30-day appeals period before the federal supreme court.

For his part, Gaylani was given a compensatory seat after Abd al-Karim al-Samarraie of Salahaddin and the Iraqiyya became minister of science and technology. Gaylani was also a Salahaddin candidate and he comes from the same Tajdid bloc as Samarraie. There should be no problems whatsoever with this replacement, and if someone is trying to challenge it on the basis of number of personal votes, they are simply misreading the deputy replacement law (which was written at a time when there were no personal votes in the electoral system).

Perhaps the most problematic of the three will be the third case, of Ammar Hasan Abd Ali. He was given the seat of Jamal al-Batikh from Wasit who became minister of state in February and was a member of Iraqiyya for Wasit at the time. That decision has been challenged by members of Batikh’s breakaway faction, White Iraqiyya, which was formed just around the time Batikh obtained his portfolio. The question is whether the new bloc – which did not even exist at the time of the elections – can now claim ownership of the seat based on post-election realities.

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