Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 02/2015

Democracy in Post-Invasion Iraq

Melani Cammett

February 2013

Watson Institute for International Studies, Brown University


In the decade since the U.S. invasion in 2003, procedural democracy was established in Iraq. A new constitution was adopted, creating a federal parliamentary democratic system, and multiple rounds of national and provincial elections have been held. The existence of institutional forms of democracy, however, is not enough to ensure the quality of democracy. This paper evaluates the quality of Iraqi democracy, using indicators ranging from corruption levels to living conditions and political freedoms. Compared to the era of Ba’ath Party rule under Saddam Hussein, Iraqis enjoy greater civic and political liberties and multiple political factions compete for power. However, the democracy that has emerged is limited in significant ways, and it has not brought peace and prosperity to much of the population.