IRAQ, political system

The functions of Iraqi Parliament during the Iraqi Baathist period, previous to the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime (April 2003), were merely symbolic. As a matter of fact, all power was concentrated in hands of the Command of the Revolution Council (CRC), and notably its president, Saddam Hussein.

The 250 members of the National Assembly –unicameral- were elected in 59 multi-member constituencies by absolute majority vote. 30 seats were allotted to the northern provinces, with a majority of Kurdish population. These 30 deputies were appointed by the government. The Kurdish provinces of Sulay-maniyah, Arbil and Dohuk ceased to be under Baghdad’s central authority after the 1991 Gulf War, benefiting from a large autonomy and with a regional Parliament based in Erbil.

The Baath (Socialist Arab Rebirth Party) was the only party allowed in Iraq (nowadays the party is forbidden). At the last elections, held on the 27th March 2000, only members of the National Progressive Front, based on the Baath Party, and non-partisans supporting the Baath movement were allowed to run. These were the second elections since the end of the 1991 Gulf War. The last President of the Iraqi National Assembly was Sa’adoon Hammadi.

Women acquired the right to vote and to be elected in 1980. With 18 parliamentarians, women represented 7.2% of the total members of the previous National Assembly.

Executive

The President was “elected” for a seven years period. Saddam Hussein was President since 1979. On 15 October 2002 there took place a referendum on the continuation of the presidential mandate and Saddam Hussein gained 100% votes on his favour. Saddam was Prime Minister, Marshal, President of the Command of the Revolution Council, Supreme Chief of the Armed forces and Secretary General of the Baath Party.

At present time, Iraq does not have an elected Parliament. A Provisional Governing Council (25 members) was set up in July 2003 under the auspices of the US Civil Administrator, Paul Bremer. The Council has a turning Presidency amongst 9 of its members (5 Shiite, 2 Suinnite and 2 Kurdish). The Provisional Government Council named, on the 1st of September 2003, the 25 Ministers forming the first post-Saddam cabinet. The confessional and ethnic representation of the cabinet follows the same proportion as the Provisional Governing Council: there are 13 Arab Shiite ministers, 5 Arab Sunnite ministers, 5 Kurdish, 1 Christian and 1 Turkmen. Among the key ministries is the choice of Hoshyar Zebari (speaker of the Democratic Party of Kurdistan – of Massoud Barzani) as Foreign Minister, the Sunnite Kamal al-Gailani as Finance Minister, the Shiite Ibrahim Mohammad Bahr al-Ouloum as Oil minister and the Shiite Nouri Badrane as Minister of Interior.