Anglia Ruskin University
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The governing system in Iraqi Kurdistan: prospects and challenges of democratic transition

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posted on 2023-08-30, 16:51 authored by Arian Mohammed Ali Abbas
Focussing on the period 2009 to 2018, this thesis provides an up-to-date overview of the Kurdistan Region, examining the governing system and addressing the interrelation between the failure of democratisation and the Kurdish de facto state. The failure of state-building overlaps with the failure of democratic transition, which in turn, generated situations of authoritarianism: from closed to electoral alternating between competitive and hegemonic regimes echoed by a duopoly party governance. Accordingly, because of its concern to whether democracy is emerging in the Kurdistan Region, this thesis mainly adopts a minimalist concept of democracy. To understand the Kurdistan Region’s complex status, the resources of more than one theory and methodology are employed here to look at democratisation and constitutionalism, in a combination of institutional and comparative analysis. The methods and targeted timespan (2009-2018) of this thesis, differentiate it from previous works. It is situated within constitutional law and governing system theories, addressing the political engineering of government, elections, civil-military relations, legislative control to identify how institutions of representation serve institutions of dominance. It also tackles the structure of and power within the Kurdistan Parliament in order to examine the potential for accountability; the espoused semi-presidentialism; the parties' status to address the present of non-constitutional government. In summary, it examines how democratic transition struggles, and authoritarianism becomes successful in the Kurdistan Region. For this purpose, the thesis is divided into seven chapters. Chapter one tackles the research background and methods. Chapter two explores the theoretical and conceptual framework. Chapter three discusses theoretical conceptions of electoral authoritarianism against experience in the Kurdistan Region. Chapter four argues how the adopted electoral system of full proportional representation alongside unfair grounds for political contestation has maintained pseudo pluralism within the continuing dominance of the duopoly party system. In terms of legislative control, chapter five discusses the impact of the ruling parties on the Kurdistan Parliament's legislative and oversight functions. Also, in terms of a democratic civil-military relationship, chapter six discusses how the party system is suffering from non-to-low levels of institutionalisation, as the ruling parties maintain party-affiliated armed forces and utilise the constant threat of the military option alongside the political process, to sustain authoritarian rule. Finally, chapter seven demonstrates the linkage between the adopted president-parliamentarism and authoritarian outcomes. The prolonged crisis of the position of Regional President is perilous, with suspended elections and the consequent extension to the terms of political institutions. This, with the ongoing existence of party-affiliated armed forces, produces multifaceted authoritarianism, potentially unfolds to closed authoritarianism.



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