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Iraq: Provincial and Local Government
Country Study > Chapter 4 > Government and Politics > Government Overview > Provincial and Local Government


From Iraq’s independence in 1932 until approval of the 2005 constitution, provincial and local governments were completely subordinate to the central government. The constitution of 2005 allots wide powers to the federal government but explicitly stipulates shared powers in customs, health, education, and environmental and natural resource policy and relegates all nonstipulated authority to the subnational jurisdictions. An article of the constitution still under discussion in mid-2006 provides for a new level of subnational jurisdiction, the region, which could include one or more governorates (provinces). Each region would elect its own government and have its own constitution. Governorates would have the option to remain independent of any region and to retain their own executive, legislative, and judicial institutions. As of mid-2006, Shiite and Kurdish leaders had endorsed the concept of regions as a basis of federalism, but no jurisdictional modifications had occurred. Governorates are subdivided into districts, which also are administered by elected councils. At the lowest level of subnational governance are municipalities and townships. In 2006 councils were in place in all 18 governorates, 90 districts, and 427 municipalities and townships. The governorate legislative councils each had 41 seats except for Baghdad’s, which had 51.

In 1992 the Kurdish Iraqi Front organized elections in which the three Kurdish provinces of northern Iraq elected the autonomous Kurdistan National Assembly. According to the Transitional Administrative Law (TAL) and the constitution of 2005, the 111-member Kurdish Parliament elected in January 2005 has jurisdiction on all matters except foreign policy, diplomatic representation, security, defense, and fiscal matters including currency. Those matters are the responsibility of Iraq’s national government. The seats of the Kurdish Parliament are divided between the two major Kurdish parties, with designated seats for the Assyrian Christian minority. Massoud Barzani was elected president of the Kurdistan Autonomous Region in 2005.

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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