Simple question on Iraqi democracy

Name one Democracy where the winning party must achieve something other than a simple majority (50%+1) in order to govern:


  1. US
    • Senate: No
    • House: No
    • Presidency: No
  2. Canada: No
  3. UK: No
  4. France: No
  5. Israel: No
  6. Iran: No
  7. South Africa: No
  8. Sweden: No
  9. Afghan Presidency: No
  10. Lebanon: No
  11. Iraq: Yes, 75% of vote is needed choose a President who appoints a Prime Minister and forms a government

I knew this before, but it never really dawned on me just how ludicrous it really was.

Someone please explain why Iraq had to be different from pretty much every other democracy in the world? I’ll try to tame my conspiracy theories for now…. but I don’t know how long I can hold them back.


Alright here comes my conspiracy theory.

What other reason would there be to impose this artificial “super-majority” requirement other than to ensure that the Shiites, who have the obvious majority have a difficult time forming a government.

Now I understand that there was a need to ensure that all parties in Iraq had a voice but should the Iraqi people not be given the benefit of the doubt? Yes, they may be rookies at the whole democracy bit, but they are by no means uneducated or unaware of what a democracy is.

Oh well, it’s really water under the bridge now…

It appears that the Shiites and Kurds have agreed to set aside their differences on the intricacies of their coalition and convene the Iraqi Parliament.

Hopefully when the Iraqi people go to the polls next time they will be doing so under a system designed by Iraqis and for Iraqis… and perhaps that is a little more representative of how the super-majority of democracies in the world actually work.

2 replies on “Simple question on Iraqi democracy”

  1. Chris,

    My understanding is that the three-fourths super-majority applies to electing the President of Iraq, not the Prime Minister. The huge majority is designed so that the Shias have to reach agreement with the Kurds on the top position. The President will appoint the Prime Minister, who can pass legislation with a simple majority.

    I agree that this does not sound like a good system. A better one would be to secure basic rights in the constititution and require constitutional amendments to achieve a three-fourths majority in the parliament and ratification by all of the provinces. That would protect the Kurds and the Sunnis on the issues that really matter instead of making every Presidential election into a constitutional negotiation. A federal rather than unitary state would also be a good idea.

  2. Yes you are correct, I should have been more clear.

    I should have said it’s needed to form a government.

    Which includes electing the President who then apoints a Prime Minister, who then forms a government

    And actually I have the number wrong, it’s nt 75%, it’s 2/3 or 66%.

    I have corrected this oversight.

    And your suggestion is spot-on. The formation and transition of government should not be held hostage by constitutional rangling. It seems this 2/3 “super-majority” is in place to ensure that the Shiites cannot automatically use their obvious population advantage to automatically control the Iraqi parliament.

    I don’t believe a democracy can function like that though…

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