Iraq is due to hold elections in the next 12 months, whether early ones – as protestors have demanded and politicians have agreed to – or regular ones at the end of parliament’s term.

Public pressure has led to a reform of the elections law by breaking up Iraq’s 18 provinces into 83 electoral districts and bringing in first past-the-post voting. The changes are meant to make elections more competitive and make MPs more representative and accountable. Doubts exist as to whether the existing parties in power will actually see their seat share reduced by the entrance of new parties. Barriers to entry and competition will make it difficult for new parties to challenge incumbents. Some protestors, disappointed with the pace of reforms, have called for a boycott of elections. Turnout is likely to be low again, supporting the status-quo power distribution. Questions continue as to when the vote will happen, whether the electoral commission will be ready and can hold proper elections, and the degree of legitimacy they will have.

This paper predicts that the upcoming elections will not be game-changers and merely support the extension of the current domination of politics by the established elite.