Seminar on Practical federalism in Iraq

Erbil, 10-16 July 2007

A brief history and overview of the work of the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq was presented, emphasising the independence of the institution and that it is not connected to any government party. The powers that it has been given have done a great deal to strengthen the democratic process in Iraq and make it successful.
Participants expressed the desire that the law on elections be discussed openly, and that in order to build their country on the principles of the constitution, people should be open to learn from the mistakes that have been committed in the past. A specific example was that of the governorates which, it was suggested, are not at the moment adequately represented. Representatives from outside a governorate are not necessarily familiar with its needs.
The mutual distrust, both for historical reasons and because of recent events, between the Iraqi National Assembly and the governorates should be overcome. Some participants suggested that elections should start from the most local level – from the municipality, then sub-district, then district, then governorate council, in order to ensure that the representation at the governorate level is as good as possible.
Participants noted the importance of passing the law on provincial councils as soon as possible, pointing out that there are currently many aspects of the situation that could hinder the progress of the commission, among which is the lack of administrative borders, issues related to the displacement of people, and the establishment of a clear structure for the system. Overcoming these problems should be a priority, and while it is not desirable to set a specific deadline, the Commission should ideally be able to resume the process by early next year.
Participants suggested that real democracy is flexible and adaptable to changing circumstances so as to best respond to the needs of the population.