As British newspaper, the Guardian explained recently: “By convention in Iraq, the prime minister's position goes to the Shia, the speaker's position goes to the Sunnis, while the president goes to the Kurds”.
And now there are four main reasons as to why the Prime Minister’s job is the most powerful. They are political, constitutional, and personal and have to do with the way the Iraqi parliament has been working.
Firstly, the Iraqi Constitution actually gives the President of Iraq very important powers, some of which the Prime Minister doesn’t have. Executive power isn’t actually limited to Iraq’s Prime Minister. And those who say that the post of President of Iraq is just symbolic are wrong.
However because Iraq’s President has failed to follow through with the powers the Iraqi Constitution gives him, the Prime Minister has taken over some of the powers given that role.
Iraq’s current President is Iraqi Kurdish politician, Jalal Talabani. However Talabani suffered a stroke in late 2012 and has been in a hospital in Germany for over 18 months. His deputy, Vice President Khodair al-Khuzaei, has taken up some of Talabani’s duties. However al-Khuzaei, a Shiite Muslim politician, is in al-Maliki’s party and is well known to be an ally of his.
The Iraqi Constitution could also be seen to be at fault when it comes to al-Maliki’s power grabs. The Constitution doesn’t specify clearly enough which powers the Prime Minister, along with other ministers and leading political figures, should have.
Al-Maliki has used the imprecise wording in the Constitution to ride roughshod over various ministries. For example, Article 78 of the Constitution says “the Prime Minister is the direct executive authority responsible for the general policy of the State and the commander-in-chief of the armed forces. He directs the Council of Ministers, presides over its meetings, and has the right to dismiss the Ministers, with the consent of the Council of Representatives”.
Al-Maliki has used his power over his own cabinet to dismiss various ministers and then take up their powers himself. In their places, he appointed members of his own party. He also decided who should hold the most important posts within the security services and he has replaced officials in those services at will, without any parliamentary supervision.