The electoral system is based on the open list system of proportional representation using the governorates as the constituencies. The counting system has been changed slightly from the Largest remainder method method to the modified Sainte-Laguë method due to a ruling by the Supreme Court that the previous method discriminated against smaller parties. Seven "compensatory" seats that were awarded at the national level to those parties whose national share of the vote wasn't reflected in the seats won at the governorate level have been allocated to individual governorates. Eight seats remain reserved for minority groups at the national level.
Iraq's Independent High Electoral Commission approved 276 political entities to run in the elections. Political entities appear on the ballot as part of a "coalition" (kutla) and under the constitution of Iraq the head of the largest coalition has the first call to become Prime Minister. However, in a precedent set following the 2010 election, a revised coalition can be formed following the election. This reduces the incentive for parties to form coalitions prior to the election.