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Iraq: Legislative Branch
Country Study > Chapter 4 > Government and Politics > Government Overview > Legislative Branch


The constitution of 2005 gives legislative power to two bodies, the Council of Representatives and the Council of Union. The Council of Union, whose form and role were yet to be determined in 2006, is to act as an appointive upper house representing the 18 governorates (provinces) of Iraq. The Council of Representatives, the working legislative body, consists of 275 members elected for four-year terms. The council is to pass laws; elect the president and generally oversee the executive branch; ratify treaties; and approve nominations of the prime minister, cabinet ministers, and other officials. The presidential election requires a two-thirds vote of the Council of Representatives; approval of the heads of ministries requires a simple majority.

The Council of Representatives convened for the first time under the new constitution in March 2006. Prior to that, in 2005 a unicameral, 275-member parliament, the National Assembly, had been elected as a transitional legislature to take the place of the 100-member Interim National Council, which the Coalition Provisional Authority had named in mid-2004. In the elections of January 2005 that chose the assembly, the Shia United Iraqi Alliance won 140 seats, the Democratic Patriotic Alliance of Kurdistan (a coalition of the two major Kurdish parties) won 75 seats, and a secular bloc, Iraqi National Accord, won 40 seats. Having largely boycotted the election, the substantial Sunni minority gained only 17 seats, but the Sunnis were allotted the position of speaker of parliament in a power-sharing compromise.

Upon ratification of the 2005 constitution, the parliament organized a new round of parliamentary elections leading to the formation of a permanent government. The elections of December 2005 revised somewhat the power balance among the major factions, adding substantially to Sunni representation. The United Iraqi Alliance won 128 seats (eight seats short of a majority), and the newly formed Sunni Iraqi Accord Front won 44. The Kurdish party won 53 seats, a loss of 22, and Iraqi National Accord won 25, a loss of 15. Mahmud Mashhadani, a Sunni, was elected president of the Council of Representatives in April 2006.

Data as of August 2006

Last Updated: August 2006

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Iraq was first published in 1988. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

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