Iraq’s electoral commission extends party registration deadline for provincial polls

IHEC says the extension is to allow for wider participation in December 18 polls

Independent High Electoral Commission staff in Baghdad count ballots during the 2021 parliamentary elections. AFP
Powered by automated translation

Iraq’s Independent High Electoral Commission has extended the deadline for political parties and coalitions to register for the provincial elections, a spokeswoman said on Sunday.

Earlier this year, the IHEC set a July 30 deadline for political parties to register for the provincial polls slated for December 18.

The deadline has now been extended to August 6, IHEC spokeswoman Jumana Al Ghalaie said.

“This extension is final in order to allow for wider participation in the upcoming elections,” Ms Al Ghalaie added.

The provincial elections are seen as pivotal as they will be held under a hotly debated electoral system that was last used in 2018 and abolished in 2020 to calm a nationwide protest movement.

The Sainte-Laguë system was reintroduced and approved by parliament in March, despite an outcry from small opposition parties. It has also been opposed by powerful Shiite cleric Moqtada Al Sadr, although he has frozen his political bloc's involvement in politics.

The system divides the country into 18 single-seat constituencies, making it difficult for smaller political parties to compete on a province-wide basis.

After the 2003 US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein’s regime, parliamentary and provincial council elections were introduced as the main pillar for democracy.

Provincial councils play a vital role as the sub-national legislative authority, as well as devising localised development plans.

They have the power to elect and replace provincial governors and make special appointments. However, they have limited power in approving projects and spending.

Iraq has not held provincial elections since 2013 due to the rise and fall of ISIS, Covid-19 and political disputes.

Updated: July 30, 2023, 10:45 AM