US embassy cable - 05BAGHDAD3828

NEW ELECTION LAW HIGHLIGHTS

Identifier: 05BAGHDAD3828
Wikileaks: View 05BAGHDAD3828 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Baghdad
Created: 2005-09-16 11:28:00
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Tags: PGOV PHUM KDEM PNAT IZ Elections Parliament
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BAGHDAD 003828 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV, PHUM, KDEM, PNAT, IZ, Elections, Parliament 
SUBJECT: NEW ELECTION LAW HIGHLIGHTS 
 
REF: LIM/NEA E-MAIL 9/13/05 
 
 1. (SBU) Summary.  The Transitional National Assembly (TNA) 
passed the election law September 12.  The electoral system 
for the December elections will consist of 230 seats 
allotted to 18 governorate electoral districts and another 
45 seats distributed nationally as compensatory seats.  The 
voter register from the January election will be used as 
the basis for determining the number of National Assembly 
seats allocated to each governorate.  Small parties that 
fail to win seats in the districts will be allocated 
compensatory seats first if they meet the 'national 
average.'  The law aims to achieve the target of at least 
25 percent female Assembly membership, and it likely will 
succeed in that.  TNA members overwhelmingly favored 
including Out-of-Country Voting in the law - a measure that 
was exceptionally expensive for the election commission in 
January 2005.  The final law received strong support from 
all major blocs in the TNA, including Kurds, Shia Islamists 
and former Prime Minister Allawi's Iraqiya group.  End 
Summary. 
 
2. (SBU) The TNA passed the Election Law September 12 (Ref 
contains English translation).  Article 15 states that of 
the 275 seats in the Council of Representatives, 230 seats 
shall be distributed to the electoral districts and 45 
shall be compensatory.  It states further that "each 
governorate is one election district in accordance with 
official borders and shall be alloted a number of seats 
proportional to the number of registered voters in the 
governorates in accordance with the elections of January 
30, 2005 based on the ration card system". During prior 
debate over the election law, members weighed allocating 
seats per governorate on either food distribution system 
data or the voter registry. However, after the August voter 
registry update preliminary results indicated that there 
had been an exceptionally large number of new voter 
registrations in Kirkuk -- over 227,000 new voters -- the 
Shia negotiators insisted on using the voter registration 
data from the January election to discount potentially 
fraudulent registrations in Kirkuk during August. 
 
3. (SBU) Based on voter registration data from the January 
30, 2004 election, Embassy Baghdad estimates that the 230 
seats will be allotted to governorates in the following 
manner: 
 
             Voters    Seats 
             -------   ----- 
Anbar        574,138      9 
Babil        694,192     11 
Baghdad    3,664,922     59 
Basra      1,035,055     17 
Diyala       624,099     10 
Dohuk        429,182      7 
Erbil        795,291     13 
Karbala      409,081      6 
Misan        417,273      7 
Muthanna     295,326      5 
Najaf        493,808      8 
Ninewa     1,197,940     19 
Qadissiya    486,827      8 
Salahaddin   498,017      8 
Suleimaniya  914,441     14 
Tameem       576,048      9 
Dhi Qar      778,574     12 
Wasit        494,955      8 
                  --     -- 
   Total  14,379,169    230 
 
Minority Compensatory Seats 
--------------------------- 
 
4. (SBU) Article 17, which explains the distribution of 
compensatory seats will allocate compensatory seats first 
to parties that did not win any governorate seats, assuming 
they obtain the "national average" (total number of votes 
nationally divided by 275).  (COMMENT:  There is no limit 
to the number of seats that can be distributed to smaller 
parties in this way, but Shia and Kurdish contacts 
calculate that, based on January election results, about 
five smaller parties will benefit from this provision by 
securing one seat each.)  This latter distribution also 
will be based on each party's proportion of the nationwide 
vote. 
 
Female Representation 
--------------------- 
 
5. (SBU) To ensure a minimum 25 percent female 
representation in the TNA, article 11 states that, 'at 
least one woman must be among the first three nominees on 
the list and at least two women must be among the first six 
nominees on the list and so on until the end of the list.' 
(Comment.  Based on this same formula, the single district 
January election produced around 31 percent female 
representation in the TNA.  Although female representation 
would be diluted using the same formula in a multi-district 
system, the formula likely would meet the constitutional 
goal of achieving at least 25 female Assembly membership. 
End Comment.) 
 
Out-of-Country Voting (OCV) 
--------------------------- 
 
7. (SBU) Article 19 states, "Iraqis outside of Iraq shall 
vote in polling centers designated by IECI and the votes 
will be counted on the National level."  (Comment. This 
provision was included in the law despite UN technical 
advice against OCV for the December election on resource 
grounds.  This OCV was exceptionally expensive in the 
January 2005 election.) 
Elections Crimes Article Deleted 
-------------------------------- 
 
8. (SBU) Even though TNA members voted to include an 
article on penalties for elections crimes, the article was 
deleted before the text was officially released by the TNA 
legal committee.  (COMMENT:  The UN favored this provision 
as a strong disincentive to those who would commit 
electoral fraud.  In our consultations with TNA members, we 
will seek to clarify the background to this change.) 
 
Parties Pleased With Law 
------------------------ 
 
9. (SBU) Shia negotiator and TNA deputy speaker Shahristani 
told PolOff on September 12 that he was satisfied with the 
law.  TNA Legal Committee Chairman Mushen Sadoon (a Kurd) 
was similarly pleased and said that there was broad 
political agreement between the Shia and the Kurds on the 
election law. 
Satterfield 

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