BEIRUT: The joint parliamentary committees resumed discussion Tuesday of various draft electoral laws amid sharp divisions among the parties over the proposals.
Opinions mostly varied with regards to whether an electoral law based on proportional representation or the majority system should be favored, as well as the number and size of constituencies.
“There was great variation in opinions and views, particularly with regards to proportional representation or a majority system, as well as how to divide the districts,” the head of the committee, Deputy Parliament Speaker Farid Makari, told reporters.
He also said that he might suggest to Speaker Nabih Berri the establishment of a subcommittee to solely study the articles in each law covering the type of system to adopt and the size of the constituencies.
Makari’s proposal would speed up the committee’s work to finalize discussion and give sufficient time for the Interior Ministry to plan ahead of the 2013 parliamentary elections.
“As for the rest of the articles, discussion is normal given that they deal with the electoral process and the expatriate voting,” he said.
Makari described the session as calm, saying: “Sometimes voices are raised but that’s part of any parliamentary discussion.”
The committee is studying three main electoral proposals; one by the Cabinet based on proportional representation with 13 medium-sized districts and another by the Free Patriotic Movement that allows each sect to vote for their own representatives also based on proportional representation.
The third proposal has been drafted by the March 14 coalition and divides Lebanon into 50 small districts based on a winner-takes-all system.
Following the end of Tuesday’s session, Hezbollah MP Ali Fayyad said the March 14 proposal excludes the Shiite voter, accusing it of neglecting the sectarian balance.
“The March 14 proposal is an electoral exclusion of the Shiite voter as if they are a citizen of the tenth degree,” Fayyad said, referring to the distribution of parliamentary seats in his rivals' proposal.
“The 50 districts proposal does not take into account sectarian justice,” he added.
He also said that Hezbollah has not announced an official stance with regards to the proposal of ally FPM. The FPM’s proposal is similar to that of the Orthodox Gathering, which Hezbollah and other predominantly Muslim parties have deemed sectarian.
Meanwhile, Future Movement MP Ahmad Fatfat reiterated his party’s opposition to a proportional representation system in the presence of Hezbollah’s arsenal.
“No to proportional representation with the presence of arms ... the majority system has guaranteed a minimum of balance with the presence of arms,” Fatfat said.
He also slammed the FPM proposal as a violation of Article 27 of the constitution which stipulates that every MP must represent the whole of society, not one particular sect.
Speaker Berri and Prime Minister Najib Mikati discussed Tuesday the debate over the electoral law in the former’s residence in Ain el-Tineh.
Mikati said Berri was keen on adopting an electoral law that is in line with the Taif Accord and guarantees the best representation for sects with certain fears.
He added that he was against any proposal that violates the Taif Accord, which stipulates that parliamentary elections should be held in accordance with a law on the basis of five provinces, later amended into six.
“I am personally committed to the Cabinet's proposal that was proposed to Parliament. They might say there is error in the distribution of constituencies but that is open for discussion,” Mikati told reporters after his meeting.
“I think proportional representation is the best suited for Lebanon in the short and long run,” he said.