Lebanon News

Interior minister rules out delays in parliamentary elections

Charbel holds talks with Berri.

BEIRUT: Interior Minister Marwan Charbel said Friday that the next parliamentary elections, scheduled for summer 2013, will take place on time.

After meeting with Speaker Nabih Berri, Charbel told reporters that he was confident the elections would not be postponed.

“The elections will take place on time. The president insists they take place ... In the absence of elections there will be no democracy in Lebanon,” he said.

“The Lebanese will agree on an electoral law, be it the one I proposed or an amended version of it, or any other law,” he added.

Last month, the Cabinet approved a draft law that would divide Lebanon into 13 medium-sized districts with a system of proportional representation.

The electoral districts were divided as follows: two for Beirut, two for south Lebanon, three for the Bekaa, three for north Lebanon and three for Mount Lebanon.

If the draft law is approved by Parliament, it would be the first time the country holds elections based on such a system. However, several blocs have already voiced their objection to proportional representation.

Lebanon’s 2009 parliamentary polls were held according to a version of the 1960 law, which divides Lebanon into 26 districts with a winner-takes-all system.

All earlier elections in Lebanon were held under a simple majority system.

Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt is the primary opponent of proportional representation, fearing such a system would restrict his clout by reducing his bloc’s share of seats in Parliament.

Meanwhile, Future Movement MP Amin Wehbi said Friday that his party would support an electoral law that established smaller districts, as called for by its Christian allies in the March 14 coalition.

“The Future Movement supports the opinion of its allies in adopting small districts for the electoral law,” Wehbi told a local radio station.

“The proposal divides Lebanon into 61 districts with one to three representatives for each district,” he added.

The Lebanese Forces and the Kataeb Party back an electoral draft law dividing Lebanon into 61 small districts with a winner-take-all system.

The law was prepared by the Bkirki Committee, under the patronage of the Maronite Church.

LF leader Samir Geagea said earlier this week that the draft electoral law approved by Cabinet skews the electoral landscape to the benefit of the March 8 coalition and fails to rectify issues concerning the political representation of Christians.

Wehbi’s remarks were echoed by the head of the Future bloc, MP Fouad Siniora, during his meeting with Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai Friday.

Siniora said the party does not mind adopting small districts if they guarantee equal representation.

The Future Movement – through its leader former Prime Minister Saad Hariri – has rejected proportional representation, specifically the electoral law proposed by the Cabinet.

Besides the draft law prepared by the Bkirki Committee and the Cabinet’s proposal, two MPs from Michel Aoun’s Change and Reform bloc forwarded to Parliament earlier this week an electoral draft law under which every sect would elect its own MPs based on a system of proportional representation.

The move by Aoun signals a return to the Orthodox Gathering’s proposal made earlier this year by Christian politicians. The Gathering’s proposal had been dismissed by many organizations, which argued that it would strengthen sectarianism.

A relevant parliamentary committee will discuss all draft laws proposed for the 2013 poll.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on September 15, 2012, on page 2.




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