Lebanon News

Keeping smaller electoral districts backward move: MP Khalil

Health Minister Ali Hassan Khalil arrives to attend a Cabinet session at the presidential palace in Baabda, Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2012. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)

BEIRUT: Health Minister Ali Hassan Khalil said Sunday that smaller electoral districts would be a step backward for the country if used in the upcoming parliamentary elections. “Ideally, Amal Movement wants Lebanon to be one electoral district based on a system of proportional representation,” the Amal Movement member said Sunday.

Saying that Amal wants elections to be held on time “using a modern electoral law based on the Taif Accord,” Khalil added.

“Smaller electoral districts take us backward. We are willing to hear all parties’ concerns and we will lean toward any national consensus.”

Last month, Cabinet approved a draft law that would increase the size of Lebanon’s electoral districts to 13 medium-sized districts, with MPs elected using a system of proportional representation, up from 26 smaller districts used in the last election.

The proposed 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.

Khalil said it backed the 13-district draft law in Cabinet “as a first step” toward using governorates as districts, which it supports because it is “committed to the Taif Accord.”

The Taif Accord of 1989 agreed that future electoral laws in Lebanon would adopt voting districts based on governorates, of which there are six.

If Parliament approves Cabinet’s draft electoral law, the 2013 parliamentary elections would be based on proportional representation for the first time. However, several groups have voiced opposition to proportional representation and have put forward alternative suggestions.

If a new law is not agreed upon in time for the elections, they will be held under a version of a 1960 law that governed the previous elections.

Speaking at a ceremony honoring the deaths of two Amal martyrs, Khalil said, “the most important part in the development of any political system is the parliamentary electoral law.”

Amal Movement, Khalil said, calls for “hurrying toward a serious discussion in order to issue a new electoral law that is based on preserving the spirit of the Taif Accord and the National Pact, the pact which determined the components of the political system.”

He added that Lebanon needs to decide whether the pact on confessional power sharing should be preserved, saying “we should not hold on to the pact when it aligns with some political interests and ignore it when it clashes with others.”

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on September 24, 2012, on page 3.




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