Demand for Reform reaches Electoral Commission

Although accusations of corruption have been made against members of the commission, and repeated demands have been made for the nonsectarian selection of electoral commission members, exactly how a new commission should be selected remains undecided. As an example of accusations against members of the commission, some critics point to Faraj al-Haidari, a former commission head who was accused of bribing public employees to vote for a particular party in the 2010 elections. The judiciary's Commission of Public Integrity detained Haidari for a time, but the charges against him were never proven.

Since 2005, each parliamentary bloc has submitted nominees for the commission's nine-member executive council based on its share of seats in the parliament, thus giving larger blocs increased chances of having their preferred candidates selected. After the nominations, the full parliament votes on the nominees. There is no term limit for the commission sitting as a whole or for its individual members. Requests for changes to the commission must be presented to the parliament speaker, who then organizes for a vote on the measure.

Member of parliament Sajida Afandi, from the Sunni Iraqi Forces Alliance, told Al-Monitor, “[My bloc] does not mind if the commission is called for depositions and held accountable in case there are charges of corruption. This is the parliament’s job, and if it is proved that these charges are true, the commission should be dismissed.”

She further said, however, “In light of the calls to put an end to the quota system and form technocratic institutions, we wonder how a new electoral commission will be formed and whether the blocs will agree to not being represented on the commission’s council.” Responding to her own statement, Afandi said, “The commission will be formed the same way as before, particularly since the local elections are scheduled for April 2017, and there is no way a technocratic commission can be formed.”

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