Election law sparks hope, but reformers remain concerned

New legislation could reduce the influence of political party bosses, but reformers still see major hurdles to free and fair elections.
Election law sparks hope, but reformers remain concerned
Iraqis stand outside a polling station in Basra after voting in Iraq's national elections on April 30, 2014. (ALI ABU IRAQ/Iraq Oil Report/Metrography)

BAGHDAD - Iraq has taken a major step toward holding early elections by ratifying an election law that addresses some demands of anti-government protesters who blamed the old system for helping perpetuate a dysfunctional status quo.

The legislation makes two significant changes. Under the new "single non-transferrable vote" system, seats in Parliament will be awarded to the candidates who win the greatest number of votes — in contrast to the old system, in which candidates ran on electoral lists and parties could transfer votes among list members, which empowers party bosses. Additionally, provinces will now be sub-divided into several smaller electoral districts instead of one single district, which could increase the relevance of tribal leaders to party officials looking to secure increasingly local constituencies.

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