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Iraq’s new electoral law allocates constituencies based on women in parliament

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 After months of disagreement, Iraqi parliament on Saturday evening passed a long-anticipated election law, excluding the provinces of Kirkuk and Nineveh, whose vote was postponed to Monday.

Parliament had previously tried and failed several times to reach an agreement on how to divide up the country’s electoral constituencies. In Saturday's session, the legislative body agreed to delineate constituencies on the basis of the quota seats of female parliamentarians in the parliament, according to a readout from parliament. 

"We agreed that the number of constituencies in each province be on the basis of the number of quota seats of female parliamentarians," Aram Balataiy, spokesperson of the KDP bloc in the Iraqi Parliament, confirmed to Rudaw.

Twenty five percent of Iraqi parliament is reserved for female MPs, numbering to 83 seats. Therefore, Iraq will have 83 constituencies. For example, the province of Erbil has four female MPs; therefore, it will have four constituencies according to the new law.

In each constituency, three to five seats are up for grabs for candidates, he added.

Christians are the only minority to be guaranteed one constituency, said Balataiy.

A number of parties boycotted the session, believing the mechanism was not suitable.

"We were for the idea that one constituency should be delineated for each province," Muthana Amin, a Kurdish MP from the Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU), whose party boycotted the session, told Rudaw.

Nouri al-Maliki's State of Law bloc, Change Movement, New Generation, a handful of Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) MPs, and a number of Sunni parliamentarians from various factions, were among those who boycotted the vote, Jamal Kochar, another KIU MP told Rudaw.

Iraq’s Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi announced in July that the country's next parliamentary elections would take place on June 6, 2021, a year earlier than scheduled. The electoral commission said in August it would be ready to hold early elections in June provided the government and parliament meet certain demands, including passing a new electoral law and allocating a budget for the vote.

Iraq's electoral system, built after the US invasion of 2003, divides power among Iraq's biggest religious and ethnic groups – Shiites, Sunnis, and Kurds. An overhaul of the sectarian system was among demands made by protesters who took to Iraq's streets from October 2019 onward.

Electoral laws passed in 2014 and 2018 divided the country for elections into independent constituencies, made up of the 18 governorates. 

On a visit to Europe last month, top Iraqi officials asked European countries to send foreign observers to Iraq for the election.

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