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Iraq - February 2023

Proposed amendments to electoral law sparked demonstrations

Hundreds of Iraqis took to the streets on 27 February to protest against a draft amendment to election legislation that would increase the size of electoral districts. The current law was passed in 2020 in response to the 2019 Tishreen Movement and has allowed independents and smaller parties to gain seats in parliament. Proposed by Iraq’s Coordination Framework and its allies, the amendment seeks a return to the previous system and would improve the electoral prospects of established parties at the provincial level at the expense of the newly formed independent actors. The new law would also bring back voting from abroad and manual counting instead of electronic counting. Seen as an attempt to alter the electoral laws to favour the ruling coalition, the amendment was challenged in parliament by independent and new political formations that arose from the Tishreen protests. Sadrists have also expressed objection to the amendment, threatening to boycott the upcoming provincial elections if implemented. Due to both popular opposition and disagreements among lawmakers, Iraq’s parliament failed to move forward with a second reading of the legislation. As parliamentary elections could be expected in October in addition to the provincial vote, these changes could raise concerns about the legitimacy of the political process if they go into effect.

Sources: Associated Press, The Arab Weekly, Shafaq News, Al Monitor

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