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The emasculation of government ministries in consociational democracies: The case of Iraq

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This article discusses power-sharing in Iraq as a case of consociational democracy. It is argued that in post-2003 Iraq, consociational features have been employed to an extent that goes beyond what is normal for power-sharing democracies. Not only unspoken ethno-sectarian quota arrangements are used in the country's legislature and executive, but also attempts to impose such features through extra-constitutional councils aimed at weakening existing executive and prime ministerial powers are frequent. The article examines three such attempts: the political council of national security (2006), the federal oil and gas council in the draft oil and gas law (2007) and the projected national council for high policies (2010-11). It is concluded that support for the moves towards greater dispersal (and fragmentation) of state power in Iraq comes not only from the Kurds, but also from the secular Iraqiya party, United States and Iran.

Keywords: Consociational democracy; Ethnic conflict; Iraq; Power-sharing; democracy; federalism; governance

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Norwegian Institute of International Affairs

Publication date: November 15, 2012

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  • The International Journal of Contemporary Iraqi Studies is a new peer-reviewed, tri- annual, academic publication devoted to the study of modern Iraq. In recognition of Iraq's increasingly important position on the world stage, the time is right for a new journal dedicated to scholarly engagement with the country.
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