14 February, 2005

Iraqi voting

Although I haven't found a copy of their laws, I've been able to piece together some information on how Iraqi elections work, based on the results in this AP article.

Step 1: Set the "Election threshold. An election threshold is a minimum # of votes a lists needs to receive in order to be seated. In Israel, it's 1.5%, Germany it's 5%, Turkey it's 15%. In Iraq, it was 0.36%, or 1/275 of the total votes. This unfairly eliminated one list: that headed by Abdel-Hahmid. But compared to Israel, Germany, or Turkey, it was extremely fair to small lists. 12 lists passed this threshold.

Step 2: Set the quota.
Each quota represented 29,133 votes, or the total # of votes among the 12 lists to be seated, divided by 275. Each list received as many seats as they had quotas.

Step 3There were four seats left over; these went to the lists who were closest to having another quota. This is known as the Largest remainder method.

Comparisons Using the Saint-Lague method, the fairest list PR system, the results would have been almost identical: UIA would have received one more seat, Abdel-Hahmid would have been seated, and the Islamic Labor Party and the Cadres party would have each received one fewer seats. The only thing that would have made a drastic difference is if Iraq had used a different threshold in Step 1. For example, using Israel's system (1.5% threshold, D'Hondt), UIA would have received 148 seats, the Kurds 78, Allawi 44, and al-Yawer 5. With a threshold of 5% like in Germany, al-Yawer wouldn't have been seated, and with a threshold of 15% like in Turkey, Allawi's list wouldn't have been seated, leaving only UIA and the Kurdish list! (Note, though, that with thresholds like those, joint lists are more attractive and the smaller parties would have put all their effort behind placing their candidates high up on joint lists.)

Confusion/Numbers don't add up The article linked above still says that there were 8.55million votes cast, of which some 94,000 were invalid (8.46 million valid votes). But adding the vote totals for each list only adds up to a total of 8.05 million votes. There are 100 or so parties whose vote totals aren't listed. If they all received fewer votes than the smallest vote-receiver listed (1,600 votes), then the numbers don't add up.

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