Iraq’s parliament voted with an over two-thirds majority in favor of amending the provincial election law passed last month to give a single guaranteed seat to each key minority group in the provinces of Basra, Nineveh, and Baghdad.
A guaranteed representation was originally part of the law, but that article was removed prior to its passage, much to the chagrin of Iraq’s minorities. It was the intention of the Presidency Council at the time to send three different bills to parliament for minority representation. The one that passed today was the one giving them the least guaranteed representation.
Members of political groups influential in the minority Christian, Yazidi, and Shabak Iraqi populations condemned the new legislation as an insult, with a Christian figure in the Assyrian Democratic Movement saying that getting no representation would’ve been better than a single seat. The group had hoped for three guaranteed seats, but the Arab majority reportedly feared that the minority groups would tend to side with the Kurdish factions and resisted larger representation.
The National Chaldeo-Assyrian Council also expressed “disappointment” with the move, complaining that it did not give Christians appropriate representation with respect to the size of their community. The Assyrian Patriotic Party’s secretary general somewhat confusingly complained that the new system “categorized Christians as a religion, not a race.”