Iraq October 15, 2005

Theme/ Question

The new constitution called for a federalist system where Kurds and Shiites could form strong autonomous regions in the north and south, respectively, potentially isolating Sunnis in Iraq's impoverished central regions.

Eligibility to vote and electoral design

Under Iraqi law, the constitution would have failed if a two-thirds majority in three of Iraq's 18 provinces had voted against it. Though a majority of voters did reject the document in the provinces of Anbar, Salahuddin and Nineveh, the Nineveh vote was fairly close, with 55% voting "no"--a percentage that fell short of the two-thirds majority needed to defeat the constitution. The other two provinces rejected the charter by more than a two-thirds majority.

Supporters vs. Opponents

The vote was split along factional lines, with most of Iraq's minority Sunni Arab population voting against the constitution, and the larger Shiite Muslim and ethnic Kurdish groups strongly backing it.

Outcome

The IECI said that about 63% of Iraq's 15.5 million registered voters had cast ballots in the referendum. The constitution was approved by 78.6% of voters, and rejected by 21.4%. Nevertheless, the vote was considered close since the constitution only narrowly escaped defeat in Nineveh.

Other relevant information

The Iraqi Islamic Party, a Sunni political group that had backed the constitution, October 25 charged that voting fraud had influenced the referendum's results in Nineveh. Sunni politician Saleh Mutlaq called for the vote to be held again in three provinces where results had been disputed, and branded the constitution's drafting process "a falsified operation."

Sources:
Facts on File World News Digest, <http://www.2facts.com>.
Economist Intelligence Unit, Country Reports
Lexis/Nexis & Factiva
Interviews with Policymakers

Suggested Citation: Neophytos G. Loizides, Referendums in Peace Processes Dataset, Queen's University Belfast (available online at http://www.qub.ac.uk/research-centres/CentrefortheStudyofEthnicConflict/TeachingResearch/Datasets/ReferendumsinPeaceProcesses/#d.en.173183)