Is Political Consensus Possible in Iraq?


Publication Date: November 2005

Publisher: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Author(s): Nathan Brown

Research Area: Politics

Type: Brief

Coverage: Iraq


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.