Law of political parties in Iraq: proposals for amendment

Political parties are a manifestation of the democratic life of the state, the situation of political parties in terms of power or weakness is an indicator of the state of the political system and the degree of its development in any country. Parties play an important role in strengthening democratic practice as the link between rulers and the people under the rule in a way to revive the partisan life and deepen the political participation of citizens. The parties, in general, are gaining its importance from its institutional structure, organizational structure, and unified intellectual and political programs, all of which are supposed to raise them to a degree of influence, usually greater than individuals can afford; for their shared visions and homogeneous views, the party sponsors them with concerted efforts and coordinated activities. Parties are one of the tools of political development measured by its ability to carry out its functions such as the expression of interests, the pooling of interests, political formation, political communication, participation and others, where it performs several posts in many democratic states by playing an active role in the field of political formation, through which it can achieve a kind of satisfaction for citizens, whether through the prevailing values or ideologies of political nature, and of course by using several means, including meetings and sessions, party conferences, and the media in various forms.

The pre-April 2003 Iraq or Saddam Hussein’s Iraq was, as is well known, the pattern of one-party states living under a totalitarian regime that prevented multiparty, and therefore there was no consequent peaceful transfer of power , based on democratic party competition, but there were opposition parties banned from practicing their political activity inside Iraq, but they were active in various exile areas, especially in neighboring countries.
The result of the US occupation of Iraq on April 9, 2003, the establishment of dozens of formations that called itself a political party as a natural case for a group of factors, notably: absolute deprivation of political opportunities in Iraq since the failure of the experience of the National progressive front in the late seventies of the twentieth century and frustration and the violent reactions that prevailed in the Iraqi political street after the fall of Iraq in the arms of foreign occupation, which was not thinking to any form of power and the rule of law of absolute chaos, which was launched with all the wills and agitations and individual and collective emotions. And the coming of a number of organized political forces abroad and supported by the occupation forces, which called themselves the forces of the opposition, along with other forces that were working according to national, regional or foreign trends and the presence of influential national figures and strong and dormant forces who were working and meet under the academic or cultural framework or under other fronts and waiting for the opportunity to appear on the scene. Based on the above, everyone rushed to the arena to appear and try to invest reality and under various reasons and purposes, but the most important are:
(A) Opposing foreign occupation and seeking to counter what is to be achieved on the ground.
B – Support foreign occupation and consider the fall of power and the state to liberate the country from the tyranny of the previous authority.
C – Achievement of personal leadership goals driven by support of religious, sectarian, ethnic or tribal fronts, as well as neighboring regional forces sought to have a role in the Iraqi arena to serve their visions and security and regional interests.

The Iraqi political parties did not have a clear vision of the conditions of the nature of their work that must be provided when they moved from the stage of opposition to the stage of parties involved in building the state, as evidenced by the situation of Iraq after 2003. The Iraqi constitution was adopted in 2005, this constitution indicates to the necessity of the legislation of a law to regulate the work of parties in Iraq, but the matter remained suspended for ten years until the adoption of Law No. (36) For the year 2015, which regulates the work of parties. Note that the work of the Iraqi parties during the ten years prior to the promulgation of the law was regulated by CPA Order No. 97 of 2004 known as the “Political Parties and Entities Law” issued by civil administrator Paul Bremer.
The scene today according to the parties law is cloudy and does not encourage the creation of real partisan life in Iraq. In the country there are the largest number of political parties and movements in proportion to the size of the population, of course, but the reality of party work in Iraq is bad undoubtedly, as the registration of new political parties and entities are carried out in the IHEC, no one knows why? Why the parties should not register parties in an independent judiciary that monitors the work of political parties and decides their disputes noting that the work of the Electoral Commission should be limited to organizing political movement and competition during the parliamentary and local elections, or any referenda in the country.
The reality of multiparty in Iraq does not refer to true democracy as some people understand. If we look at party programs, we will not find clear differences between them, and we will not find in their political curricula what distinguishes each other. Although party law has codified some of the bases for partisan action, reality tells us that all of these parties are not committed to these rules . For example, article 5 of the Political Parties Law No. 36 of 2015 stipulates that “the party or political organization shall be founded on the basis of citizenship, in a manner that is not contrary to the provisions of the Constitution, and the party or political organization should no be founded on the basis of racism, terrorism, atonement or sectarian, ethnic or national fanaticism.” We see that Iraqi political life is based on sectarian parties and national parties, and currents whose main character is the struggle to represent the sectarian, religious or ethnic component. We do not need to be too clever to prove what is clear and known about the behavior of the parties that do not allow elements out of their component in the doctrine and ethnicity to join them.
Article 8, paragraph 4 of the Political Parties Law, referred to a very important point: “The establishment of the party and its work shall not take the form of military or paramilitary organizations, nor shall any armed force be associated with them” , but we find the strength of armed militias and entities possessing armed factions Is moving clearly in the Iraqi arena, and perhaps in the manner to circumvent the law that prevents the armed forces from participating in partisan life, we have seen some of the militia forces constitute cartographic parties represented in the political process and parliament, and everyone knows and declares the names of leaders of armed militias and militias Paramilitary in Parliament, as the reality has to be dealt with.
The most dangerous point, which some Iraqi political analysts believe has led to the delay in issuing the parties’ law over a period of ten years, is the party funding mechanism. This is a very important and dangerous point, because it represents the most important outlet for external interference in Iraqi political life and the executor of the agendas of international and regional forces in the country. The articles organizing the financial affairs in the law of parties were ambiguous and bear different interpretations as the Article 34 of the law, for example, prevent the political party from trading for profit, but on the other hand, the law recognized that political parties have the right to invest, provided that such action should be transparent and subject to the inspections of the competent regulatory bodies, which must review the bank accounts of parties periodically, but this article came in a vague form as it did not specify the nature of investment and its limits .Everyone knows today that most of the parties in the political process have the so-called Economic Committee, a party entity that determines the political party’s work in investments concluded by the ministry or the institution headed by a member of the party which opens the door for the opportunity for the corruption .
Today, the political forces in Iraq have been exerting efforts to agree on a new amendment to the law of political parties in force in the country, since 2015, through its political blocs within the Iraqi Council of Representatives, because of what it considers “mistakes” within the law that allow many parties to exploit them . At the same time, the presidency of the Iraqi Council of Representatives confirms that there is a conflict of views on the amendments, in the presence of supporters and opponents, according to the interests of the parties themselves, which means, according to observers, a battle expected within the political blocs.
According to the latest statistics issued by the Electoral Commission of Iraq, the number of political parties and political movements registered with it amounted to more than 200. The statistics reveal that about 85 per cent of these parties are religious, national and regional, and similar in ideas and thoughts , and mostly appear by virtue of copied or repeated between party and another . The observers for the Iraqi issue stressed, the existence of many claims related to the law of parties No. 36 of 2015 and “born in a hard birth ,” noting, at the same time, the existence of objections from political blocs do not wish to frame their political and political work by law, because previous years saw a space dedicated to partisan and political action and participation in elections without oversight and accountability in order to identify sources of funding. They stressed “the need to deal with the law currently in force with a promising political vision in order to expand political participation and attract the largest number of citizens and politicians by facilitating the establishment of parties and not arbitrariness in the use or complexity of legal procedures.”

In their opinion, the number of parties is not proportional to the situation of the Iraqi street at the present time, and Iraq can be considered the highest in the world in terms of the number of parties today, the majority of those parties are duplicate and similar and do not differ only by name. The religious issue prevails over it, as well as thinking about the sectarian scope within Iraq, and keen to raise religious enthusiasm in this doctrine or that, in order to get the desired popularity, so it can be considered a threat to Iraqi society not benefit, many of them fuel sectarianism more than it is today. The current stalemate of parties in Iraq is very serious. The more a party goes through the problem , we see it split apart , the more likely it is to multiply , so it has become necessary to have a new amendment for the law of parties in Iraq .
They stressed that the exit of the members of the House of Representatives to submit to the orders of political forces may lead to the existence of the mature law of parties. “If things go otherwise, the amendments will not come up with anything new,” they said. “The amendments, if they are without political pressure, may oblige dual nationals not to run for sovereign positions.” They pointed out that “some blocs will try to satisfy the political parties affiliated with them in the law of parties,” stressing the “importance of a law of parties capable of accounting the political forces that spend large funds during the election period, and also reveals the funds and its sources of the Iraqi parties.
In the same context, they stressed that a number of important articles in the Parties Law will be drafted in the form of amendments and presented to the Legal Committee of the Iraqi Council of Representatives, explaining that “several things must be amended in the law of parties, including representation of women in parties, and the participation of youth in it, and the issue of funding and promotion of the ideas of the Baath Party.” For his part, Ali al-Salem, a representative of political entities in the Electoral Commission of Iraq stressed, that “the new amendments, if passed, will be important at the level of political action in Iraq, and end the chaos of the formation of parties and then disintegrated it and the reform it , then the foundation of a party has become easier from opening a shop in a residential neighborhood. ” He added that “the amendments will be important in terms of organization of party work, leading to stability, even a simple, in the political process in Iraq.” A member of the human rights organization Fadel al-Gharawi said that the law of parties was legislated despite the fact that it contained many gaps, stressing for the “new Arab”, that there are indicators on the issue of transparency in dealing with political entities. He stressed “the need to organize the issue of granting a license to political parties, taking into account the provision of opportunities for young people and the empowerment of women.”
This raises the question based on the reality of partisan work in Iraq: What do all these parties, coalitions, blocs and currents in daily life after the election season? What is the role of parties in public life? Is it possible to observe the reflection of the parties’ work on the lives of the street man? And what do the political leaders, who could not win the elections to participate in the legislative and executive powers? Are parties not working to develop the performance of their bases and cadres after that? Do not they work on holding and organizing conferences, for example? Do not they work to create pressure lobbies on the government and the Iraqi parliament? Observers of Iraqi affairs assert that there is no level of awareness of the importance of party work in Iraq today. Perhaps we can exclude some ideological parties such as the Communist Party and some of the parties that are counted on the fingers (very few) from this generalization, these parties may continue to work throughout the year, especially if they own their own media outlets.

Iraqi Studies Unit
Rawabet Center for Research and Strategic Studies

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