The approval of the Iraqi constitution on October 15 marked the first step in crafting the country's political structure. However, it also exposed the depth of the domestic divisions through the lopsided (and almost exclusively ethnic and sectarian) voting trends in which Shii and Kurdish areas almost unanimously approved the draft while Sunni areas rejected it by overwhelming margins.

American officials have become very explicit that their strategy for political reconstruction in Iraq hinges on the viability of a “political process” that attracts the involvement and support of major groups in Iraqi society. In a new Policy Outlook, Is Political Consensus Possible in Iraq?, Senior Associate Nathan Brown examines the four most critical elements of that process--elections, legislation, constitutional revision, and building federalism--and shows how they are just as likely to engender conflict as consensus.  He provides a set of clear benchmarks for measuring the success of the effort to build a more consensual political system.

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About the Author
Nathan Brown is a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.  He is author of four books on Arab politics, including Constitutions in a Nonconstitutional World: Arab Basic Laws and the Prospects for Accountable Government. He has written extensively on the Iraq constitution and its implications.