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Title: How the political elite view democracy in deeply divided countries : the case of Iraq
Author: Bapir, Mohammed Ali
ISNI:       0000 0004 6348 8680
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2016
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This thesis focuses on the role of agency during political transition processes in divided societies. To be more specific, it examines how the Iraqi political elites view democracy and what type of political institutions they support. The years between 2012 and 2015 are of great significance and the final US withdrawal at the beginning of the period marked the conclusion of military occupation. That event made the Iraqi political elite central to the political process. Previous studies have focused on structural issues in post invasion Iraq, highlighting factors that could facilitate democracy or systems that could undermine prospects for a democratic system in the country. A gap in the literature on Iraq is identifiable as there is a lack of any real attention to the issue of agency. The theoretical contribution of this study is that it illustrates and underlines the importance of elite perspectives for the democratisation process in a country divided along ethno-religious lines. The study argues that democratic institutional arrangements are needed as the means to reconcile different, and at times conflicting, political interests. Having established this point, the research analyses the role of agency in terms of key political players in forming, arranging, and setting up institutions. Extensive field research collating original empirical data was carried out in Iraq, Baghdad and Erbil, from 2011 to 2015. This study surveys the Iraqi House of Representatives, the Iraqi Presidency, and the Iraqi Council of Ministers, and involves interviews with highly placed decision makers in the executive, the legislative and the judiciary, as well as members of the Constitution Drafting Committee. Key participants include; the President and the Prime Minister, Speakers of the Parliament, and the Chair of Iraqi Constitution Drafting Committee. The participants include members from all the main ethno-religious groups in this divided country. Based on this new data, the specific views of Iraq's political elites are analysed, and their preferred types of political system are articulated, providing a concise contribution to current knowledge of democracy building in Iraq. The first empirical finding is that elites of the minority groups conceive democracy as power sharing, while members of the majority understand it as majority rule. The second finding is that larger groups support majoritarian institutions, while smaller groups support consensual ones. Those findings confirm previous academic thinking, for example Lijphart's theory on consensus democracy. The third finding is more surprising. All groups support a consensual arrangement of federalism and a majoritarian constitution. This unexpected support for these types of institutional arrangements required investigation in more depth to determine how political elites view federalism in Iraq, and how the constitution, if the opportunity arose, might be amended. It is argued that the future possibilities of Iraq’s polity depend largely on political agreements between the political elites representing the main groups in Iraq. The stability of the country rests mainly on the ability of its elites to arrange political institutions in such a way as to accommodate the different interests of the groups they represent.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: JQ Political institutions (Asia ; Africa ; Australia ; Pacific Area ; etc.)