Iraq Political System

According to, with capital city of Baghdad, Iraq is a country located in Western Asia with total population of 40,222,504.

Where is Iraq

State and politics

The Bath Party’s government and all state institutions, including the armed forces, collapsed or disbanded in April-May 2003 (see also Iraq War). The United States formed a temporary agency, the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), for the coalition of states that participated in the invasion of Iraq. In May, diplomat Paul Bremer became head of the CPA, and the same month the UN Security Council in Resolution 1483 acknowledged the role of the US coalition as an occupying power. See ABBREVIATIONFINDER for how IZ can stand for Iraq.

The UN’s longstanding sanctions against Iraq were thus ended. Bremer set up an interim council, the Iraqi Interim Governing Council (IGC), with 25 members from different ethnic groups. Several of them had returned from exile. The IGC, which lacked real power, began its work in July 2003, and its main task was to finalize a temporary constitution, the Transitional Administrative Law (TAL), which came into force in April 2004.

According to TAL, a provisional government would be formed and elections would be held for a Transitional National Assembly (TNA). The whole process was delayed due to political disagreement and fiery violence, but on June 28, 2004, the United States could formally, albeit not real, hand over its rule to the Provisional Government.

By the New Year 2009, the UN mandate that recognized the occupation of the United States Alliance expired and Iraq formally became an independent state. The new state was faced with the task of making room for the previously marginalized Shiite majority in the country’s government, while preserving the hitherto dominant Sunni Arab minority’s rights and safeguarding the Kurdish population’s autonomy in the northern part of the country. A division of power between the country’s various peoples was carried out as the presidential office accrues to a Kurdish, while the Prime Minister is a Shi’ite Muslim and the Speaker of Parliament, a Sunni Muslim.

Developments in Iraq have been characterized by strong divisions, sectarian contradictions and rivalry between politicians. Widespread corruption has stalled or delayed crucial reforms.


According to the constitution, the president mainly has ceremonial functions and is elected by Parliament for four years. Legislative power lies with Parliament and the upper house. Parliamentary elections are held every four years while the House of Representatives is appointed by the provinces.

The Presidency, which will approve all legislation, is made up of the President and two Vice Presidents. The Prime Minister, who is nominated and approved by Parliament, the Council of Representatives, has as the head of government the direct executive power and is also the head of the armed forces.

The number of MPs elected every four years is 329 (2019), which roughly corresponds to one mandate per 100,000 residents as stipulated in the constitution. At least a quarter of the members must be women and every ethnic or religious minority is guaranteed places.

Iraq’s political system is based on the fact that no group can dominate all political positions. The Prime Minister is usually Arab Shia Muslim, Speaker Arab Sunni Muslim and President Kurd.

The current constitution is from 2005. The Parliament then appointed a commission that drafted a permanent constitution, which was approved in a referendum in October 2005.

Political parties

A large number of political parties exist in the country, mainly on a religious or ethnic basis or centered around clan leaders and other strong personalities. Most of the parties are affiliated with a handful of alliances.

In contrast to the 2010 and 2014 elections, the political groupings in the 2018 elections exhibited, on the one hand, mutual division within the groupings of Shia, Sunni Arabs and Kurds as well as examples of election cooperation across religious and ethnic borders.

The dominant Shiite political landscape was divided into five groups in the 2018 elections, the Kurds likewise on five groups, while the Sunni Muslims presented two different lists.

The Shiite groups that competed for voter support in the 2018 elections were the Victory Coalition, chaired by incumbent Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi (born 1952), and the rule of law, which former Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki led. Both formerly belonged to the strong Shiite party Kallelse to Islam. In addition, the Alliance Conquest, which under Hadi al-Amiri (born 1954), serves as an umbrella organization for traditional groups within the Supreme Islamic Council of Iraq (SIIC). SIIC had a prominent role in opposition to Saddam Hussein’s rule. The Alliance Conquest also has strong ties to the dominant Shia militia, the People’s Mobilization Force. The fourth Shi’a coalition is the Truth Coalition, whose leader is Amar al-Hakim (born 1971), and the fifth grouping Forward, which is linked to the religious leader Muqtada al-Sadr (born 1973). Sadr, who runs an anti-Western agenda, has his companions among the poor Shiite population, mainly in Baghdad. In the election, Forward partnered with the Iraqi Communist Party. Forward, in particular, highlighted the fight against corruption and against sectarianism.

The split was also big among the Kurds following the disputed referendum on independence in Iraqi Kurdistan in 2017. Kirkuk had been lost with its oil fields and other areas, which the Kurds consider to be part of Iraqi Kurdistan, something that has never been accepted by the Iraqi regime. The two long-dominant parties Kurdish Democratic Party during Massud Barzani’s (born 1946), management and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan had to compete with the opposition group Goran for Omar Said Ali (born 1945), the management and the newly Coalition for Democracy and Freedom led by Barham Salih, who previously been active in PUK.

The Sunni Arab leadership has long been divided between the Arab decision alliance, which also includes candidates from the United Alliance and the Arab Project, and the National Coalition Alliance, which also includes former Prime Minister Iyad Allawis (born 1945) secular coalition.


With the adoption of the constitution in 2005, ordinary parliamentary elections have been held in December 2005 as well as 2010, 2014 and 2018.

The elections to the Transitional Parliament, the provincial councils and the Kurdish regional assembly were conducted on January 30, 2005. However, most Sunni Arab boycotts boycotted the elections by their leaders.

The parliamentary elections, and the boycott of the Sunni Arabs, led the religious Shi’a alliance and the Kurdish alliance to come to dominate the new transitional government that took office in May 2005. Prior to that, Parliament had elected Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani as interim president. Shia Muslim Ibrahim al-Jaafari (born 1947) became the leader of the unifying government, and six members included six Sunni Arabs, a Christian Arab and a Turk.

In the 2010 election, the group won the Iraq List (al-Iraqiyya, also known as the Iraqi National Movement, INM), which received 91 seats. The alliance was dominated by the Party Renewal Party, which described itself as a secular and non-sectarian movement. The second largest in Parliament with 89 seats became the Rule of Law, dominated by the party Calling to Islam led by Nuri al-Maliki, Prime Minister since 2006. The rule of law is Shiite-dominated but has a mainly secular and multi-ethnic profile and also includes Christian, Sunni and Kurdish minorities. The Iraqi National Alliance (INA), which received 70 parliamentary seats, is a Shiite-dominated group that until 2009 collaborated with Call for Islam within the United Iraqi Alliance, the dominant grouping in the local and parliamentary elections in 2005.

After the 2010 elections, lengthy government negotiations were held. The rivals al-Maliki and Allawi first tried to form a joint government, but the talks ended because of disagreement over who would become prime minister. Instead, the Rule of Law and INA decided to cooperate but lacked four mandates for majority. For more than eight months, Iraq remained without government until all the three major Arab alliances and the dominant Kurdish parties in mid-November could agree to form a broad unity government with al-Maliki as continued prime minister.

Even after the 2014 elections, in which the Rule of Law became by far the largest group with 92 out of 328 seats in parliament, government formation became problematic. Only in July could Parliament agree to appoint Fuad Masum (born 1938) as president. In August, Masum commissioned the government to form the first Deputy Speaker of the Parliament, Haider al-Abadi (born 1952). al-Maliki claimed that the appointment was in violation of the Constitution and initially refused to resign, but ultimately chose to step aside since both domestic and international forces, including the United States, expressed their support for al-Abadi.

In 2014, IS proclaimed a caliphate in parts of Iraq and Syria and the struggle to expel them from Iraqi soil continued in the following years. This battle was fought by both the Iraqi army, Shi’im militia and by Kurdish militia forces, Peshmerga, with the support of a US-led, international coalition. During the war years, a large number of Iraqis were forced to leave their homes; In 2018, the number of internally displaced persons was approximately 1.8 million.

On September 25, 2017, one Kurdish-initiated referendum on Kurdish independence was held in Iraq. About 93 percent voted for independence, a result complicated by the fact that the election was annulled by Iraqi Prime Minister al-Abadi. The election results led to fighting with Iraqi forces and ended with the withdrawal of control of the oil city of Kirkuk by the regime in Baghdad, while the issue of independence was put on ice.

In November 2017, Iraqi troops, supported by several Shi’ites, succeeded in taking over Mosul and other foreign flight operations over Mosul and other areas over which the Islamic State terrorist organization had control since 2014. Only minor pockets remained under the Islamic State. This was central in light of the fact that parliamentary elections were to be held in Iraq and that this could now be done based on a situation where the country was again in the hands of the Iraqi regime. The election would have been held in September 2017 but postponed until May 2018.

The outcome came partly as a surprise when the Forward grouping under Muqtada al-Sadr received the most seats in parliament (54 seats). The Alliance Conquest led by Hadi al-Amiri gained 48 seats and the then Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi’s group came in third place with 42 seats. The turnout was relatively low. The official figure was reported to be 44.5 percent.

After tough negotiations between the major blocs, with varying support from Kurdish parties and the Sunni lists and other smaller parties, a new government was able to take shape on October 3, 2018 when a new president and prime minister could be sworn in. The country’s new President Barham Salih received support from the Kurdish PUK and Prime Minister Adil Abd al-Mahdi represented the Shiite majority in the country.

The fact that government formation was so prolonged was due both to the internal divide between various political groups in Iraq and to the need to obtain approval from Iran and to a certain extent from the United States.

In 2019, demonstrations against the regime began, which during the autumn intensified and spread throughout the country. Students and other young people protested against unemployment and lack of community service. Corruption within the political elite was condemned as a cause for social development to stall, but the demonstrations also targeted Iran’s great influence in the country. The regime responded to the protests with violence and hundreds of protesters were killed in confrontations with the security forces.

The situation became unsustainable for the incumbent Prime Minister al-Mahdi, who was forced to resign in November 2019. In February 2020, Mohamed Tawfiq Allawi (born 1954), former Minister of Communications and cousin to former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi (born 1945), was appointed new Prime Minister by President Barham Salih. However, this did not stop the protesters, who condemned Allawi as yet another representative of the corrupt elite who were protesting. Allawi, who faced the task of uniting the divided parliament around a new government, announced his intention to conduct an earlier election, but the situation in the country remained unstable.

In addition, a US drone attack on January 3, 2020 contributed to a car convoy near Baghdad Airport, which killed visiting Iranian General Qasem Soleimani, commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. The killings led to greatly increased tensions throughout the region and brought the US and Iran closer to a regular outbreak of war. The attack also killed Suleimani’s Iraqi host, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis (1957-2020), commander of the People’s Mobilization Force, as well as eight other Iranian and Iraqi officers. At the end of December 2019, the attack had been preceded by attacks by Iran-backed militia against both a US air base in Iraq and the US embassy in Baghdad.


The most important laws in Iraq are the Civil Code, the Commercial Code, the Civil Procedure Code, the Penal Code and the Penal Code. Civil law covers only the right of inheritance, while the right of family and inheritance is governed by the personal religious right of the persons concerned, ie. for the majority of the country’s population of Islamic law. The judicial organization is represented by a court of cassation (in cases concerning the state security of a revolutionary tribunal). The lower courts include different types of courts, including religious courts. The death penalty is punished for some serious crimes.

Human Rights

The Iraqi people have been hit hard by the three major conflicts in the country’s modern history: the Iraq-Iran War, the Kuwait War and the Iraq War with the ensuing occupation. The war has resulted in a ravaged political and economic system, devastation of the country’s infrastructure and poverty and disease. For many Iraqis, basic health care has been largely absent for a long time.

The totalitarian regime that fell with the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003 was replaced by an American occupation with a lack of legitimacy and power and a decade of political turbulence and escalated violence. The number of civilians killed and injured in terrorist acts is still widespread and Iraq is one of the countries in the world that has the most conflict-related civilian deaths in relation to crowds.

Unlawful violations and abuses mainly affect interns, journalists, human rights activists as well as women and girls. Torture and arbitrary arrests are common and impunity is widespread.

The execution of death sentences has steadily increased in number and in 2012 executions in the country were at record levels. The criminal justice system is based on acknowledgments that are not infrequently enforced through torture.

Journalists and political opposition are subjected to attacks and intimidation by the government’s security forces and respect for freedom of expression is steadily deteriorating. In  Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index 2015, Iraq is ranked 156th out of 180 countries, which is a sharp deterioration from 2010.

As many Iraqi women have lost their husbands as a result of the fighting, they have been left financially vulnerable and vulnerable to human trafficking and prostitution. Domestic violence, forced marriage and honor-related crimes are common.

The situation in the country is hitting the children hard. The exception to the violent environment is chronic malnutrition as well as diseases such as pneumonia and diarrhea common causes of death. Reports also show that children are subjected to sexual violence and forced marriage and approximately half a million children between the ages of 5 and 14 are estimated to be exploited in child labor.

People with disabilities are highly discriminated against and face limited access to education, work and public environments.

LGBTQ people are stigmatized in society and there are reports of hate crimes.

Heads of State

1921-33 Faysal I
1933-39 Ghazi
1939-58 Faysal II
1958-63 Military junta led by Abd al-Karim Qasim
1963-66 Abd as-Salim Arif
1966-68 Abd ar-Rahman Arif
1968-79 Ahmad Hasan al-Bakr
1979-2003 Saddam Hussein
2005-14 Jalal Talabani
2014-18 Fuad Masum
2018- Barham Salih