Dr. Ali Mahdi – Vice President of the Baghdad Center for Legal and Economic Development
The Iraqi Constitution of 2005 stipulated the composition of the legislative authority in the House of Representatives and the Federation Council, a structure adopted by most federal countries worldwide. In this structure, the House of Representatives represents the general population, while the Federal Council represents regional or provincial interests. The formation, functions, and procedures of each body vary according to each country’s circumstances.
As per the constitutional document, the House of Representatives was mandated to enact the Federal Council law after its first session. However, it failed to fulfill this obligation, effectively violating its duties by neglecting to legislate the law. Additionally, the Federal Supreme Court failed to instruct the House of Representatives to enact the law.
In many countries around the world, the legislative authority consists of two chambers, whether in a unified or federal state, simple or complex. This bicameral structure was established since the formation of the American states in 1789, making them the world’s first federal states. The National Assembly responsible for drafting the Iraqi constitution adopted this model. However, the implementation has been flawed, particularly in balancing the powers of the two chambers. The Constitution focused extensively on the House of Representatives’ provisions while inadequately addressing the details of the Federation Council’s formation. The creation of the Federal Council was relegated to a law issued by the House of Representatives, a parallel arrangement highlighting institutional imbalance. Consequently, legislators will encounter significant challenges when drafting the Federal Council law, including concerns about power overlap.
In prior periods, various proposals aimed to address this legislative void. The initial draft of the Federal Council was developed by the Constitutional Amendment Committee established during the first session of the House of Representatives. Despite completing its tasks on July 22, 2009, political forces reneged on their commitment to execute the constitutional amendment within the designated time frame. Subsequently, President Fouad Masum submitted a draft law that closely followed the Constitutional Amendment Committee’s blueprint, albeit with minor modifications. The first reading took place on September 22, 2014; however, legislative procedures were not finalized.
In light of an agreement between the Alliance of State Administration forces, which led to the formation of the current ministry, the Legal Committee of the Council submitted the draft Federation Council law to the Council’s Presidency on May 21, 2023, for its first reading. This implies that the draft will be the subject of profound debates, necessitating inclusive public discussions involving political and public factions, civil society organizations, research institutions, national and legal figures, and all stakeholders invested in the success of Iraq’s federal democratic trajectory and state structure.
This paper will draw upon prevailing trends in various federal states, the formula proposed by the Iraqi Constitutional Amendment Committee, and the draft submitted to the House of Representatives. The aim is to facilitate discussion participants’ task of selecting optimal and suitable formulations.