However this is far from the final decision. Various minority groups are demanding special representation on the Federation Council, including religious, ethnic and gender-based groups.
For example, Baghdad lawyer Yusuf Khan says the Federation Council is important because it will monitor the Iraqi government's actions but he thought members should be experienced elder statesmen, from the military, society and politics, so that the country could benefit from their experience and accumulated wisdom.
Several major political blocs support the Federation Council laws. These are the Kurdish MPs, the opposition Iraqiya bloc and the major Shiite Muslim-denominated group, the Sadrist movement. Broadly speaking these groups tend to be more enthusiastic about decentralization of power in Iraq.
Independent Kurdish MP, Mahmoud Othman said that so far, his bloc's arguments were mostly about what share of membership the Kurdish would have on the Federation Council. “Our bloc also recommended that international expertise should be sought while drafting this law,” Othman said.
“The Council's powers are very limited,” MP Adnan al-Janabi, a member of the opposition Iraqiya bloc, said. “So its important to reconsider these powers and possibly increase them.”
Naturally the political grouping with the most reservations about the Federation Council is Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's State of Law bloc. Al-Maliki has been criticised almost constantly for trying to centralize Iraqi government powers. And his ruling bloc actually opposed the recent law that gave the provinces more powers and withdrew from that voting session.
“Giving members of the Federation Council the right to veto laws is not consistent with the Constitution,” Khalid al-Asadi, a leading member of Maliki's State of Law coalition, argued to NIQASH. “Parliament should be the highest authority in the country because it is composed of the MPs voted for by the people.”
Clearly passing the Federal Council legislation will hardly be easy – the two thirds vote requires that 217 out of 325 MPs approve the law.
“Parliament has postponed the second reading of the Federation Council draft law,” MP Jawad al-Jibouri of the Sadrist movement told NIQASH. “It was scheduled for July 16 but its been postponed so that the different blocs can come to an agreement on disputed paragraphs.” Even so al-Jibouri is hopeful that the law will be passed before the end of the current legislative session.
(Picture: Iraqi parliament)