Article 133 of the Iraqi Constitution makes any final decision a little more difficult. Any laws relating to the Federation Council “shall be postponed until the Council of Representatives issues a decision by a two-thirds majority vote in its second electoral term that is held after this Constitution comes into force”.
This meant that the Federation Council couldn’t be finalised during the Iraqi Parliament's first term between 2005 and 2009. However this is the second term – 2010 to 2014 – and MPs have been able to start discussing the Federation Council. The first draft of the law has already been finalized.
NIQASH has sighted a copy of this draft and according to this, the Federation Council should be able veto legislation if it contains irregularities, even if it has already been through parliament and the executive. If the Federation Council vetoes a law, it can be re-submitted to Parliament where it can either be amended or cancelled altogether. If Parliament is able to vote on the law with a two-thirds majority, then the legislation can still be passed. The Federation Council cannot enact laws or submit proposals for laws.
Other aspects of the law say that Federation Council members may attend parliament to discuss legislation and to vote on it. Members will be elected by Iraqi voters and they will enjoy the same privileges as MPs currently have. Historically in Iraq there was a similar body to the Federation Council during Iraq's monarchy. Back then the Iraqi version of the senate was made up of tribal leaders, military officers and businessmen and all were appointed by the Iraqi king.
Decisions issued by the Federation Council are also binding for both parliament and the executive – this would force the government to abide by laws passed by Parliament. The Federation Council will be a central point for the revision of the relationship between the Iraqi government and the provinces and the government and parliament. This would be helpful, observers say, as all three groups are blaming one another for the Iraq's current crises in politics and security.
“The broad outline of the law on the formation of the Federation Council is almost complete,” MP Ziad al-Tharb, a member of the opposition Iraqiya bloc and the Regions and Provinces Committee in Parliament, told NIQASH. “There are still some disagreements on how many members the Council should have and how these members are to be selected. The initial agreement says that there will be four representatives from each of the 18 provinces around Iraq.”