The National Assembly
Although the 1970 Constitution provides for a parliament called the National Assembly, this body was not instituted until 1980. The RCC first circulated a draft law creating the assembly in December 1979; after some changes this was promulgated as law the following March. According to the law, the National Assembly consists of 250 members elected by secret ballot every four years. All Iraqi citizens over eighteen are eligible to vote for assembly candidates. The country is divided into 250 electoral districts, each with an approximate population of 250,000. One representative is elected to the assembly from each of these constituencies. The National Assembly law also stipulates, however, that there is to be a single electoral list. Furthermore, the qualifications of all candidates for the assembly must be reviewed and be approved by a governmentappointed election commission. In practice, these provisions have enabled the Baath Party to control the National Assembly.
To qualify as a candidate for National Assembly elections, individuals need to meet certain conditions. For example, prospective candidates must be at least twenty-five years of age, must be Iraqi by birth, must not be married to foreigners, and must have Iraqi fathers. Having a non-Iraqi mother is grounds for disqualification except in those cases where the mother is of Arab origins and from another Arab country. In addition, persons who were subject to property expropriation under the land reform or nationalization laws are not eligible candidates. Furthermore, all aspiring candidates are required to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the election commission that they believe in the principles of the 1968 Baath Revolution, that is, in the Baath Party's objectives.
The first parliamentary elections since Iraq became a republic in 1958 were held in June 1980, and the First National Assembly convened at the end of that month. Baath Party candidates won 75 percent, or 187, of the 250 seats. The remaining 25 percent were won by parties allied with the Baath and by independent parties. Elections for the Second National Assembly were held in October 1984. Approximately 7,171,000 votes were cast in that election, and the Baath won 73 percent (183) of the seats. Thirty-three women were elected to the assembly. Saadun Hammadi was elected chairman of the assembly, and two years later he was made a member of the RCC.
Since 1980 the National Assembly generally has held two sessions per year in accordance with Article 48 of the Constitution. The first session is held in April and May, and the second session in November and December. During the few weeks each year that the National Assembly is in session, it carries out its legislative duties in tandem with the RCC. The assembly's primary function is to ratify or reject draft legislation proposed by the RCC. In addition, it has limited authority to enact laws proposed by a minimum of one-fourth of its membership, to ratify the government's budget and international treaties, and to debate domestic and international policy. It also has authority to supervise state agencies and to question cabinet ministers. Although the assembly has served as a forum for limited public discussion of issues, its actual powers were restricted and ultimate decision-making authority pertaining to legislation continued to reside with the RCC in 1988.
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