Iraq: Politics, Elections, and Benchmarks
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS WASHINGTON DC CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE
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Iraqs political system, the result of a U.S.-supported election process, is increasingly characterized by peaceful competition rather than violence, as well as by cross-sectarian alliances. However, ethnic and factional infighting have not ended. Some believe that Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, strengthened politically by the January 31, 2009, provincial elections, is increasingly authoritarian, in part to ensure that he holds power after the planned January 2010 national elections. Maliki is widely assessed as gaining control of the security services and building new security organs loyal to him personally. He has also formed cross-sectarian alliances with a wide range of Sunni and Kurdish factions, to counter new coalitions by a wide range of erstwhile allies and former opponents. The continuing infighting among the major communities delayed the National Assemblys passage of the election law needed to hold the January 2010 national elections, which had been planned for January 16, 2010. An initial version of the election law was passed by the Council of Representatives COR, parliament on November 8, 2009, but was vetoed by one of Iraqs deputy presidents, Tariq al Hashimi, because of what he considered inadequate guarantees of representation for Sunni Iraqis displaced by recent violence. After continued infighting, threatened election boycotts, and adoption of another draft law that attracted another veto threat, all major factions compromised to adopt another draft, similar to the November 8 version, on December 6, 2009. The next Assembly will have 325 seats, compared to 275 seats in the current Assembly. However, the election date is delayed until March 7, 2010-well beyond the January 31, 2010, date that had been deemed the required deadline in order to allow 45 days before the expiration of the CORs term March 15.
- Government and Political Science