The Speaker of Iraq’s Parliament acknowledge today the inevitability of a “constitutional and legislative vacuum” as a result of the unavoidable gap between the end of the current Parliament’s legislative term and the time before elections can be conducted and a new Parliament and government formed — about two months by the Speaker’s estimation. The Speaker called upon Iraq’s political and judicial institutions to “be ready to find legal mechanisms to deal with it,” and proposed maintaining the current Parliament until a new Parliament is formed.
The political and legal quandary Iraq finds itself in would be challenging for any democracy — much more so for a nascent one with living experience of only authoritarian rule. It is a testament to the development of democracy and the rule of law in Iraq that the starting point for consideration of a way out (or at least around) this challenge is the Constitution itself. Even as he proposed the continuation of the current Parliament, the Speaker was adamant that the matter could not be resolved by Parliament but had to be submitted to the Federal Supreme Court.
There is no provision in the Iraq Constitution for a caretaker government. Constitutional amendments require a national referendum, and therefore cannot be relied upon to solve the current predicament. Declaring a state of emergency is an option, but hardly a desirable one.
It may be that Iraqis will temporarily have to turn a blind eye to the letter of the law (it’s been done before), but I would invite contributors and readers of this blog to offer other possible solutions.