Lebanon News

Lebanon speaker maintains proportional system safeguards 'diversity'

Speaker Nabih Berri during his weekly meeting with lawmakers in Ain al-Tineh, Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2017. (The Daily Star/Hasan Ibrahim, HO)

BEIRUT: Speaker Nabih Berri on Wednesday reiterated his calls for proportional parliamentary election law, saying it best reflects Lebanon’s diversity.

"We should all reach consensus on a new electoral law to safeguard Lebanon," Berri said during his weekly meeting with lawmakers.

Lawmakers are sharply divided on the characteristics of the electoral law that will govern May’s parliamentary elections.

The matter is a priority, Berri said, and called on Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s Cabinet to launch talks “as soon as possible.”

MPs, who attended Berri’s meeting, said the speaker also discussed his recent meeting with Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblatt.

"Jumblatt's ideas are based on a hybrid electoral law," the MPs said, according to local TV channel LBCI.

Jumblatt denied after his meeting with Berri on Monday that his party had specific concerns over the new law.

"We have no fears, as we are certain that Berri is keen to maintain unity and diversity in Lebanon," he said.

The Druze leader said he discussed with Berri the latest developments in lawmakers’ efforts to craft a new electoral law and proposed a series of "debatable" ideas to consider.

Jumblatt has ramped up his opposition to a proportional vote law by calling for the adoption of an amended version of the 1960 system, or the creation of a senate and the abolition of political confessionalism as stipulated by the 1989 Taif Accord.

MPs from Jumblatt’s bloc have met with leaders of various blocs to lobby against a proportional vote law.

Observers say that Jumblatt could be worried that a proportional vote law would deprive his 11-member bloc of some parliamentary seats in the Chouf-Aley region.

 

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