Council of Representatives
|Preceded by||Chamber of Deputies|
Length of term
|Single non-transferable vote (after 2019)|
|10 October 2021|
|Redistricting||Independent High Electoral Commission|
The Council of Representatives (Arabic: مجلس النواب, romanized: Majlis an-Nuwwāb al-ʿIrāqiyy; Kurdish: ئهنجومهنی نوێنهران, Enjumen-e Nûnerên), usually referred to simply as the Parliament is the unicameral legislature of the Republic of Iraq. As of 2020, it comprises 329 seats and meets in Baghdad inside the Green Zone.
An elected Iraqi parliament first formed following the establishment of a constitutional monarchy in 1925. The 1925 constitution called for a bicameral parliament whose lower house, the Chamber of Deputies of Iraq or Council of Representatives (Majlis an-Nuwwab) would be elected based on universal manhood suffrage. The upper house, the Senate of Iraq (Majlis al-A`yan) was appointed by the king. Sixteen elections took place between 1925 and the coup of 1958.
On January 17, 1953 elections for the Chamber of Deputies (also known as the National Assembly) took place. Following controversy over the implementation of the so-called Baghdad Pact, Prime Minister Nuri Pasha as-Said called for elections the following year, in early 1954. As-Said dissolved the assembly shortly thereafter and began to rule by decree, but opposition forced him to hold a third election within three years. The second 1954 election was very corrupt, with as-Said's political enemies banned from running, and widespread voter coercion. The assembly was suspended yet again, and in 1958 a military coup deposed as-Said and the monarchy, and abolished the parliament.
The 1970 constitution created a republic with an elected National Assembly (al-Majlis al-Watani). However, elections for the Assembly did not take place until June 1980, under Iraq's new military president, Saddam Hussein. Several more elections took place between 1989 and 2003. Elections for its members were not considered free and fair by the international community. Only members of Hussein's own Baath Party were ever elected.
In 2003, Saddam Hussein was forcibly removed from power by the United States of America, the United Kingdom and their allies during the Iraq War. In March 2003 a governing council set up by the Coalition Provisional Authority signed an interim constitution which called for the election of a transitional National Assembly after than the end of January 2005. This Assembly would draft a permanent constitution which would then be submitted to approval by the Iraqi people in a general referendum.
Elections for this transitional National Assembly (al-Jam`iyya al-Wataniyya) took place on January 30, 2005. The United Iraqi Alliance Party won the majority of seats with 48% of the popular vote resulting in 140 seats. Eighty-five members of the assembly were women.
Talks between the UIA and other parties to form a coalition government began soon after the election. The assembly had its first meeting on March 16, 2005. After weeks of negotiations between the dominant political parties, on April 4, 2005, Sunni Arab Hajim al-Hassani was chosen as speaker; Shiite Hussain Shahristani and Kurd Aref Taifour were elected as his top deputies. The Assembly elected Jalal Talabani to head the Presidency Council on April 6, and approved the selection of Ibrahim al-Jaafari and his cabinet on April 28.
Under the permanent constitution approved on October 15, 2005, legislative authority is vested in two bodies, the Council of Representatives and the Council of Union.
The Council of Representatives consists of 325 members elected for four years, with two sessions in each annual term. The Council passes federal laws, oversees the executive, ratifies treaties, and approves nominations of specified officials. It elects the president of the republic, who selects a prime minister from the majority coalition in the Council. (During an initial period, a three-member Presidential Council elected by the Council of Representatives will carry out the duties of the president of the republic.)
Elections for the Council of Representatives were held on December 15, 2005. The Council first met on March 16, 2006, exactly one year after the first meeting of the transitional assembly.
The Council of Representatives of Iraq has the same name in Arabic (مجلس النواب, Majlis an-Nuwwab) as the lower legislative houses of Bahrain, Morocco, Jordan, and Yemen, and as the unicameral legislatures of Lebanon and Tunisia. However, a number of different English terms are used to refer to these bodies.
The Council of Union, or Federation Council (Majlis al-Ittihad), will consist of representatives from Iraq's regions and governorates. Its precise composition and responsibilities are not defined in the constitution and will be determined by the Council of Representatives. As of 2021, no concrete steps have been made towards establishing the proposed upper house.
On, April 12, 2007, Mohammed Awad, a political party member of the Iraqi National Dialogue Council, was killed at the convention centre canteen of the parliament building, and 22 were wounded, in the 2007 Iraqi Parliament Bombing.
A group of Sunni lawmakers boycotted parliament in a June 2007 protest of the removal of the speaker, Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, after a series of controversial actions. They returned in July after the speaker was re-instated with the understanding that he would quietly resign after a few sessions. A group of Shiite members also returned in July after a boycott which gained them an investigation into the bombing of a Shiite mosque, along with reconstruction and improved security. The parliament was under pressure from the United States to pass legislation dealing with members of the Baath party, distribution of oil revenues, regional autonomy, and constitutional reform, by September 2007.
The Iraqi cabinet approved a draft elections law in September 2009. However, it took two months and ten delays for the law to pass in the Council of Representatives. The main areas of dispute concerned the "open list" electoral system and the voters roll in Kirkuk Governorate, which Arab and Turkmen parties alleged had been manipulated by the Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq.
UNAMI advised the electoral system was changed to allow people to vote for individuals as well as party lists under the open list form of proportional representation. The last national elections had used a closed list system, but the Iraqi governorate elections of 2009 had used open lists. In the end, all parties except for the Kurdistani Alliance agreed to support open lists which was adopted. The law increased the size of the Council from 275 to 325 members—equal to one seat per 100,000 citizens, as specified in the Constitution of Iraq.
The parliament was stormed by protesters in April 2016; the protestors also attacked buildings within the parliamentary complex.
The Council of Representatives voted on 11 February 2018, to add an extra seat for minorities, in the Wasit Governorate for Feyli Kurds, making the total number of parliamentarians equal to 329 prior to the 2018 parliamentary elections.
As a result of the ongoing 2019 Iraqi protests, the Council of Representatives approved a new law on 24 December 2019 which aims to make it easier for independent politicians to win a seat in the Council of Representatives. The new law will see each of Iraq's governorates split into several electoral districts, with one legislator being elected per 100,000 people, thus replacing its proportional representation system for a district-based system. The new law will also prevent parties from running on unified lists.
Main article: 2022 Iraqi political crisis
Since the parliamentary election in October 2021, there has been a political crisis in Iraq, with members of the Council of Representatives of Iraq being unable to form a stable coalition government, or elect a new President. For 10 months the national political system has been in a political deadlock. On 3 August 2022, Muqtada al-Sadr called for snap elections.