In the days after parliament finally passed the 2010 parliamentary election bill, both President Jalal Talabani of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi, formerly of the Iraqi Sunni Party, and now part of the new Iraqi National Movement, have called for it to be revised. They are both requesting that the number of seats set aside for refugees and minorities be increased.
As the election bill now stands, eight seats are set aside for minorities and eight seats are compensatory seats for refugees and political parties that don’t do well locally in the provinces, but do well nationally. Talabani and Hashemi are both asking that the quota be increased to 48 seats out of 323.
Talabani called for an amendment after the Kurdish parliament requested one. Many of Iraq’s minorities have fled to Kurdistan or live in the disputed territories in northern Iraq, so an increase in the quota would probably help the ruling Kurdish parties like Talabani’s PUK. This is a change for the President as he, and Iraq’s other Vice President Adel Abdul Mahdi, already ratified the bill.
An adviser to Vice President Hashemi said that refugees need more representation since most are Sunnis, which is Hashemi’s constituency. Hashemi’s coalition partner Parliamentarian Saleh al-Mutlaq has called for 30 seats for refugees. The Vice President went on TV saying that he will veto the bill unless it is changed by Tuesday, November 17, 2009.
The ball is now back in parliament’s court to either increase the quota or see whether Hashemi is bluffing about a veto. This is just the latest delay after many, as the law was supposed to be passed in October.
Agence France Presse, “Iraq’s January vote placed in doubt by presidency,” 11/16/09
Alsumaria, “Talabani and Abdul Mehdi ratify election law,” 11/14/09
Aswat al-Iraq, “URGENT/VP says won’t endorse election law come what may,”” 11/15/09
Najm, Hayder, “election law faces new challenges,” Niqash, 11/13/09
Reuters, “Iraq VP Threatens To Veto Vote Law Over Refugees,” 11/15/09