The current Iraqi government is a parliamentary democracy and the most recent Iraqi constitution was ratified in 2005. Both these events have occurred in the wake of the U.S.-led invasion into Iraq in 2003 that toppled Saddam Hussein. After the Saddam government was dissolved, the Iraqi government went through a number of phases before arriving at it’s current state.
Immediately after Saddam was toppled, Iraq was under military occupation by the United State and allies. The governing body at the time was the Coalition Provisional Authority. This Authority quickly moved to appoint local governance and the Iraq Interim Governing Council was created. By 2004, the Iraq Interim Governing Council had transferred its power to the Iraqi Interim Government.
This government was followed by the first free and fair elections since Saddam took power, elections for the Iraqi National Assembly. With these elections, power transferred from the Iraqi Interim Government to the Iraqi Transitional Government. The National Assembly, a 275 person body, was set up as a parliamentary democracy from the start. It passed the Transitional Law, which served as a provisional Iraqi constitution.
The current Iraqi constitution was written by a subcommittee of the National Assembly. It was officially adopted by the people in a referendum held on October 15, 2005. The Constitution defines Iraq as a democratic and Islamic federal parliamentary republic.
As a federal government, it oversees 18 separate governorates and one region. As a democratic republic, Iraq takes common elements from both American and European governments. There are three branches: legislative, executive, and judicial. The legislative branch is the Council of Representatives, a 325 member body, which was most recently elected in 2010. This Council has the power to commit Iraq to international treaties, pass federal laws, and oversee the executive.
The relationship between the legislative and executive branches in Iraq follows the European style, rather than the American one. The Council oversees the executive. Its members elect the country’s president, who in turn appoints its prime minister from among the members of the Council’s majority party.
The prime minister has a Council of Ministers, who along with the president and prime minister, make up the executive branch. The prime minister is the main executive power. The prime minister has legal control over Iraq’s military and directs the Council of Ministers. The ministers have different portfolios typical of a democratic republic, such as defense, finance, oil, agriculture, education, and environment. These are just a sample of the ministerial offices represented on the Council of Ministers.
The judicial branch is made up of the Higher Judicial Council, which oversees management of the highest federal court, the Supreme Court. There are other lower, federal courts created as well.
The Constitution also places limits on the ability of the Iraqi government to interfere with the rights and freedoms of Iraqi citizens. The Constitution guarantees the rule of law, a presumption of innocence in criminal trials, equal opportunity, and privacy. It has only limited protections for assembly, freedom of expression, and the press.
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