Kurdistan Parliament

The Kurdistan Parliament is the Region's democratically elected legislature. The parliament consists of one elected chamber. Its three main functions are:

  • to examine proposals for new laws
  • to scrutinise government policy and administration
  • to debate the major issues of the day

The founding principles of the parliament are liberty, pluralism, accountability, inclusiveness, openness and the representation of all peoples in the Kurdistan Region.


Landmark legislation passed by the Kurdistan Parliament

The Kurdistan Parliament has passed several landmark pieces of legislation. These include:

For all other laws and further information, please visit the Kurdistan Parliament website

Structure of the Kurdistan Parliament: Ensuring broad representation

There are 111 seats in the parliament (as stipulated by Law No. 1 passed in 1992). The Kurdistan Parliament is led by the Speaker, who is assisted in his duties by the Deputy Speaker.

In February 2009 several amendments were made to the Kurdistan election law to increase the inclusiveness of all groups. The minimum age of parliamentary candidates was lowered from 30 to 25. The legal minimum quota of female parliamentarians was increased from 25 percent to 30 percent of the legislature. While seats had already been reserved in previous elections for minority communities, for the Christian and Turkmen communities this was increased to five seats each.

History of the Kurdistan Parliament

The Kurdistan National Assembly was established in 1992, in the first free and fair elections ever held in the Kurdistan Region or in any part of Iraq.

To protect civilians from attacks by Iraqi military forces following the 1991 Gulf War, the US, UK and France initiated a no-fly zone above the 36th line of latitude which cuts across Kurdistan. On the ground, a security zone was established by military forces from eleven countries. These no-fly and security zones strongly supported and encouraged the return of refugees, including those who had left in the 1970s.

Later in 1991, Saddam Hussein withdrew his forces and his administration from parts of the Kurdistan Region. Compounding the hardship caused by an international UN embargo on Iraq, Saddam Hussein enforced an additional internal embargo on the region that stopped food and fuel supplies, disconnected electrical power and prevented the movement of people to other parts of the country.

Faced with the administrative vacuum and double embargo, the Kurdistan Front, an alliance of diverse political groups in the Kurdistan Region, decided to hold a general election. Their goal was to establish an administration to provide for essential public services and to meet the basic needs of the people. The population also expressed a strong desire to choose its representatives. The election, held on 19 May 1992, was the first free and fair parliamentary election in the history of Iraq. A minimum seven percent threshold was set for representation in the parliament. Voter turnout was very high and the elections were deemed to be free, fair, and democratic by international observers. After decades of dictatorship, the people in Kurdistan were able to vote for their representatives for the first time in their history.

This regional election led to the formation of the first Kurdistan National Assembly and the establishment of the Kurdistan Regional Government. The leadership and the people of the Kurdistan Region decided to adopt and abide by all Iraqi laws except for those that violated human and universal rights. By 15 July 1992, the Kurdistan National Assembly had convened. Law No. 1, the first law passed by the assembly, established the Assembly as the Region’s legislature.

To date, there have been four region-wide parliaments, following elections in 1992, 2005, 2009, and 2013. In 2009 the Kurdistan National Assembly was renamed the Kurdistan Parliament.

Parliamentary Elections

Elections for the Kurdistan Parliament are held at least every four calendar years, (as stipulated in Article 8 of the Kurdistan Electoral Law). The last parliamentary elections were held on 21 September 2013. Anyone aged 18 or over who is a citizen of the Kurdistan Region and is on the electoral register is eligible to vote in a direct, universal and secret ballot.

Powers of the Parliament [1]

As provided in the federal constitution of Iraq, parliament has considerable power to debate and legislate on policy in a wide range of areas: health services, education and training, policing and security, the environment, natural resources, agriculture, housing, trade, industry and investment, social services and social affairs, transport and roads, culture and tourism, sport and leisure, and ancient monuments and historic buildings.

The Kurdistan Parliament shares legislative power with the federal authorities in the following areas, but priority is given to the Kurdistan Parliament’s laws: customs, electric energy and its distribution, general planning, internal water resources.
In addition, under Article 121 of the Iraqi federal constitution, the Kurdistan Parliament has the right to amend the application of Iraq-wide legislation that falls outside of the federal authorities’ exclusive powers.


Committees of the Kurdistan Parliament

The Kurdistan Parliament has a number of standing committees that work on the following areas:

  • Legal affairs
  • Agriculture and irrigation
  • Finance and economic affairs
  • Health and environment
  • Construction, housing and rural development
  • Endowments and religious affairs
  • Human rights
  • Municipalities, transport, communication and tourism
  • Civil society affairs
  • Youth and sports 
  • Interior, security and provincial councils
  • General and higher education and scientific research
  • Women’s rights
  • Family, children and social affairs
  • Relations, culture, media and heritage
  • Peshmarga, martyrs, and Anfal victims’ affairs
  • Industry, energy and natural resources
  • Protection workers’ rights
  • Integrity
  • Parliament affairs     
  • Article 140 of the Iraqi Constitution

[1] These powers are granted by the federal constitution of Iraq in articles 114, 115, 117, 120, 121, 126 and 141.