Iraqi Politicians Push for More Power to Provinces

The parliamentary Committee on Legal Affairs has confirmed that the current disputes surrounding the Federation Council merely involve procedural matters and formalities, such as the number of representatives allowed from each province and the quota of women and minorities on the council.

In a statement to Al-Monitor, Latif Mustafa, a member of the Committee on Legal Affairs, revealed, “Iraq’s 18 provinces will each have four representatives, with the exception of the capital, which some people are saying should be represented by more than four.” He also mentioned the demand for quotas for women and minorities.

These demands are not fundamental ones, which means that the draft law has a good chance of being adopted by year’s end, giving Iraqi provinces the representative capacity needed to review federal laws that affect their well-being and to propose laws that safeguard their interests.

As noted, the constitution stipulates that passing the Federation Council Law requires a two-thirds parliamentary majority. This type of majority is also required when electing a new president. By setting this condition, Iraqi legislators sought to give the Federation Council added national importance, while making it a rallying point around which the main political forces agree. This condition and the difficulty in achieving it have been the main issues hindering progress in adopting the law until now.

On Feb. 1, 2012, the United Nations called on Iraq to establish the Federation Council as an ancillary to parliament, for “this body would include representatives of regions and provinces, and would therefore complement the House of Representatives, which represents the Iraqi people. The council’s powers are expected to include reviewing laws passed by parliament, in addition to other duties ascribed to it by the pertinent law.”

Mushreq Abbas is a contributing writer for Al-Monitor’s Iraq Pulse. He has been managing editor of Al-Hayat’s Iraq bureau since 2005 and has written studies and articles on Iraqi crises for domestic and international publication.

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