Iraq’s electoral system

Why successive reforms fail to bring change
Research paper Published 6 October 2021 Updated 2 February 2022 ISBN: 978 1 78413 442 6
Posters of political candidates line a street in Baghdad.

Dr Victoria Stewart-Jolley

Course Director, Institute of Continuing Education, University of Cambridge

Reform of the electoral system has been a consistent feature in Iraq since 2003. However, these developments have had little impact on how governments are formed. There is a lack of faith among Iraq’s general population in the power of elections to bring real change – frustrations have often emerged through protests to which the government has responded with violence and limited legislative gestures.

The government formation process that has followed each election since 2005, centres on the distribution of ministerial posts to political parties that together form a governing coalition. However, rarely have the political parties with the most votes received the most senior cabinet positions, or headed up the governing coalition. The introduction of the single non-transferable vote is the latest reform to the electoral system, but it remains to be seen if this will resolve public frustrations with the status quo.

An Arabic translation of the paper is available as a PDF via this link.