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Iraq: Democracy Iraqi Style

(May 10, 2010) On May 5, 2010, ALJAZEERA reported that two of the three largest parliamentary blocks who won seats in the recent legislative election in Iraq, the State of Law Coalition and the Iraqi National Coalition, had formed an alliance that will select the next Prime Minister and government. The agreement between the two blocks included a provision giving the most venerable Shiite religious leader, Ayotallah Ali al-Sistani, the authority to resolve any dispute that may arise within the alliance.

This means that al-Sistani will have the power to nominate the Prime Minister if the alliance fails to agree on a single candidate for the post. Such a provision raises a fundamental constitutional question, since the Iraqi Constitution of 2005 did not reserve any role for a religious authority to intervene in the governing process. The issues are whether the willingness of the members of the alliance to abide by a decision originating outside the Parliament would violate their constitutional duties and whether the nomination of a Prime Minister through such a novel process would be invalidated on constitutional grounds. (Iraqiya: Shia Alliance Made in Iran, AL-JAZEERA, May 5, 2010, available at
(last visited May 10, 2010; on file with author.)