Some thoughts on the portions of the draft that are posted by the Guardian.
First of all, while the name is simply “The Republic of Iraq” (Article One), both the preamble of the draft constitution, and Article Two define Iraq as “federal.” This is contrary to the stated wishes of Sunni leaders, though, as I argued, not contrary to the objective interests that these leaders represent. Still, it looks like a recipe for intensified Sunni rejectionism, notwithstanding the rather weak nature of the federal provisions (more on that point shortly).
Article Two also states that “Islam is a source for legislation” (my emphasis).
I do not see anything in what the Guardian has posted about the powers of the president and the relationship of the cabinet and prime minister to the president. Nor do I see anything about whether the president is single or collective (like the interim presidency is). However, it appears that the presidency is relatively weak, because Article Two includes “parliamentary” in its definition of the state. The president is evidently elected directly, not appointed by parliament, though it is not clear. Assuming an elected presidency and a more-powerful prime minister responsible to parliament, this would be a ‘sem-presidential’ or ‘premier-presidential’ system.
Now, on federalism more specifically. The mechanism of creating federal units reads pretty much like what I advocated when I suggested that the constitution could “set up a process by which pairs (or more) of provinces could unify into larger entities.” Here is the text from the draft of Article 114:
A region consists of one or more provinces, and two or more regions [provinces?--Ed] have the right to create a single region.
I am not sure that last part (after the comma) was rendered correctly in the Guardian’s translation, but the other parts of Article 114 go on to speficy mechanisms by which provinces may initiate joining together into regions, and the process may be initiated either by 1/3 of the councils of the province in question, or by petition of 1/10 of the voters. (The rest of the process is not spelled out in these excerpts.)
This is good, and is similar to the process that Spain placed into its constitution after Franco, and by which Autonomous Communities have been created, some of which (e.g. the Basque lands) have combined several existing provinces, while others comprise a single province.
There is, however, no limit on the extent of the national population that any one Region can encompass, as I also suggested in my just-referenced entry.
It is also not clear to me whether parliament is bicameral or unicameral. I get the impression there is no upper house, but it is not clear. If there is not, then that undercuts the federal dimension, although in principle a federation could have a unicameral parliament (none do, unless one counts tiny Micronesia or Chavista Venezuela), as long as there are other mechanisms to prevent the center from taking over the soverignty of the regions. (It is worth noting that many federations have upper houses, but very weak ones–notably Belgium and Spain. The US model of co-equal houses and equal representation of the subnational entities is far from typical of federations.)
Regions will have their own constitutions, but these “must not contradict this constitution and Iraq’s central laws,” which implies that there is not, in the end, much subnational sovereignty after all. (And if that is the case, how is it ‘federal’?)
On the contentious issue of resources, Article 109 states:
Oil and gas are the property of all the Iraqi people in regions and provinces.
OK, well that is clear, isn’t it? Article 110 elaborates a bit, though still rather vaguely:
The central government administers oil and gas extracted from current wells, along with governments of the producing regions and provinces, on the condition that revenues are distributed in a way that suits population distribution around the country.
All of what I have seen on federalism leads me to the conclusion that this constitution is ony weakly federal. In some ways that is for the good, such as the provisions that appear to require oil revenues to be distirbuted based on population, not on where the oil was extracted. In some ways it is not so good, such as the apparent subordination of regional constitutions to central law (which I take to mean more than just the central constitution itself).
On political parties, Article Two continues the ban on the Baathist Party “and its symbols under any name.”
Finally, on ratification, the real kicker is in Article 153:
This law is considered in force after people vote on it in a general referendum
With the caveat that I have not read a complete draft (and the draft has not been formally accepted yet by the assembly) I would take this to mean that the provision for veto by 2/3 votes in three or more provinces has been eliminated, as I sort of predicted yesterday, in the last paragraph of my entry on Why the Sunnis might not be able to veto the constitution.
Bottom line: From what I can see, this is a quite majoritarian constitution that will empower the central government, but with some limited autonomy for regions that sets of provinces will be free to create.
Now the really hard part begins: Making it work in the context of what is probably already a civil war, and with the probable Sunni opposition to the constitution.