Lebanon News

March 14 electoral draft law would harm assimilation: Jumblatt

PSP leader Walid Jumblatt attends a press conference in Beirut, Lebanon, Friday, July 1, 2011. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)

BEIRUT: MP Walid Jumblatt said in remarks Thursday the opposition’s proposal for an electoral law based on small districts would harm national assimilation.

“[I understand] the fear of some Christians but adopting small districts carries dangers most notably that it comes at the expense of integration,” told As-Safir newspaper.

MPs Butros Harb, Sami Gemayel and George Adwan, representing the March 14 alliance, forwarded Thursday morning their own electoral draft law to Parliament’s General Secretariat.

The proposal divides Lebanon into 50 small-sized constituencies based on a winner-takes-all system.

In a chat with reporters at his Hazmieh residence Wednesday, Harb said the March 14 coalition would give negotiations with Jumblatt a chance, saying: “Deliberations are under way with him to agree on a formula that unites us.”

But according to Jumblatt, the March 14 proposal is similar to the one presented by the Orthodox Gathering earlier this year, which allows each sect to elect its own lawmakers within a proportional representation system that was rejected by predominantly Muslim parties.

“The smaller the districts, the more we approach the Orthodox Gathering proposal which was rejected and is impossible because at the end of the day we should preserve a minimum of national assimilation in electoral districts,” Jumblatt, who heads the Progressive Socialist Party, said.

He also reiterated his support for the 1960s election law, which adopts the qada as an electoral district in a winner-takes-all system which was used in the 2009 parliamentary elections.

Jumblatt described it as the optimal option at the present time.

Jumblatt, along with head of the Future Movement former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, rejected a draft law formulated by the Cabinet earlier this year that was based on proportional representation.

The Cabinet’s proposal divides Lebanon into 13 medium-sized districts.

Hariri has vowed to block the bill in Parliament.

Two MPs from MP Michel Aoun’s Change and Reform parliamentary bloc forwarded to Parliament earlier this month a draft election law by which every sect elects its own MPs in a system that also incorporates proportional representation.

The FPM proposal is similar to the Orthodox Gathering.





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