Parliament 'resembles a primary school'

Advisor highlights chaos in Iraqi legislative dynamics

BAGHDAD, January 28 — Rahab Al-Abboudi, an adviser to the president of the parliament, expressed concerns about the evolving dynamics within the Iraqi Parliament. Al-Abboudi highlighted that the absence of key leaders from parliamentary blocs has altered the functioning of the Parliament, both in sessions and committee meetings. This shift, she notes, is further amplified by members of parliament (MPs) focusing on gaining popularity through social media, especially YouTube.

In an interview, Al-Abboudi remarked, “The Parliament’s lack of leadership has significantly impacted its effectiveness, leading to a decline in its stature. Previously, party leaders filled the first and second rows, but now, the Parliament resembles more of a school. As soon as sessions end, there’s a rush to leave, and chaos ensues. Important agreements and meetings often take place outside the Parliament, with decisions being predetermined.”

She observed a change in how the media covers the Parliament. “In the past, we were criticized for being overly influenced by front-row leaders. Now, these leaders are noticeably absent.”

Discussing operational changes in the Parliament over time, Al-Abboudi pointed out variations in session scheduling under different presidencies and a decrease in engagement in committee meetings, which are critical for legislative processes.

“The current Parliament, she said, “resembles primary schools during breaks. This isn’t to belittle it, but rather a critical observation. Laws are debated in two dimensions: their legal aspects and the decisions made in political leadership meetings.”

Al-Abboudi emphasized that laws with significant social impact are often delayed by political leaders for two reasons: they don’t directly influence the politicians’ careers, and they create confusion among parties attempting to align with social norms.

She concluded by urging MPs to shift their focus away from social media and their roles as intermediaries in transactions. “A deputy who isn’t involved in facilitating transactions often fails to get re-elected. Today, even media interviews with politicians are contingent on the audience they can attract, as media professionals also aim to boost their program ratings.”