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.
Structure of the Parliament: Ensuring broad representation
History of the Parliament
Powers of the Parliament
Members of the Parliament
Committees of the Parliament
Landmark legislation passed by the Kurdistan Parliament
The Kurdistan Parliament has passed several landmark pieces of legislation. These include:
Kurdistan Region Investment Law (English)
Kurdistan Region Oil & Gas Law (English)
Kurdistan Region Amendments of Iraqi Personal Status Law (English)
Kurdistan Region Amendment to Iraqi Pension and Social Security Law (English)
Kurdistan Region Law to Combat Domestic Violence (English)
Kurdistan Region Presidency Law (Kurdish)
Amended Kurdistan Region Presidency Law (Kurdish)
Kurdistan Region Counter-Terrorism Law (Kurdish)
Kurdistan Region Law on Rights of Family Members of Anfal Victims (Kurdish)
Kurdistan Region Law on Compensation of Wrongly Convicted Persons (Kurdish)
Kurdistan Region Law for Board for Disputed Territories Affairs (Kurdish)
Kurdistan Region Law on Regional Security Council (Kurdish)
Kurdistan Region Law on Protection of the Environment (Kurdish)
Kurdistan Region Law on Funding of Projects for Youth (Kurdish)
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.
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 
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.
Members of the Kurdistan Parliament
The 111 MPs in the Kurdistan Parliament represent the following political lists and parties:
• Kurdistan Democratic Party: 38 seats
• Change List: 24 seats
• Patriotic Union of Kurdistan: 18 seats
• Islamic Union of Kurdistan: 10 seats
• Islamic Brotherhood of Kurdistan: 6 seats
• Islamic Movement: 1 seat
• Communist Party (Freedom List): 1 seat
• Kurdistan Communist Party: 1 seat
Parliamentary seats reserved for minority groups:
• Turkoman Development List: 2 seats
• Erbil Turkoman List: 1 seat
• Turkoman Change and Reform List: 1 seat
• Turkoman Movement List: 1 seat
• Al-Rafidain List: 2 seats
• Chaldean-Assyrian-Syriac Council: 2 seats
• Abna Al-Rafidain List: 1 seat
• Barwan Isan Mergoz Batros: 1 seat
Committees of the Kurdistan Parliament
The Kurdistan Parliament has a number of standing committees that work on the following areas:
Agriculture and irrigation
Finance and economic affairs
Health and environment
Construction, housing and rural development
Endowments and religious affairs
Municipalities, transport, communication and tourism
Civil society affairs
Youth and sports
Interior, security and provincial councils
General and higher education and scientific research
Family, children and social affairs
Relations, culture, media and heritage
Peshmarga, martyrs, and Anfal victims’ affairs
Industry, energy and natural resources
Protection workers’ rights
Article 140 of the Iraqi Constitution
 These powers are granted by the federal constitution of Iraq in articles 114, 115, 117, 120, 121, 126 and 141.
Speaker of Kurdistan Parliament of Iraq
Yousif Mohammad Sadiq, the Speaker of Kurdistan Parliament of Iraq, born in Slemani (Sulaymaniyah), Iraq, 1978.
He was graduated from the College of Political Sciences, Salahaddin University inErbil, 2001 (BA), Masters of Arts in Political Sciences at Nahrayn University in Baghdad, 2006. In 2014, Dr. Yousif received a PhD in Political Sciences at the University of Slemani.
Since 2007 until he became the Speaker, Dr. Yousif worked as a lecturer at various univeristies throughout Kurdistan Region. He is a regular writer, critic and regulalry writes on political developments in the region. His book, Terrorism and International Conflict was published in 2013. Dr. Yousif also acted as the Coordinator of the Hatakay “Enough” Campaign between 2007-08 which was a local NGO fighting corruption and demanding reforms and institutionalisation of the Kurdistan government institutions.
On 21 Septmber 2013, he was elected as a Member of Parliament from the Gorran (Change) Movement. On 29 April 2014, he was elected as the Speaker.
Dr. Yousif is married and has two sons; Mani and Areen.