Lebanon News

Hybrid proposal only chance for new law: Fatfat

Future bloc MP Ahmad Fatfat arrives at the Parliament in Beirut, Wednesday, April 10, 2013. (The Daily Star/Mahmoud Kheir)

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s only chance for a new electoral law is through the hybrid system, Future MP Ahmad Fatfat said Friday, as all signs indicate a possible extension of Parliament’s term.

“Our only chance to reach a new law for the elections is through the hybrid proposal, given that all parties represented in the subcommittee have agreed to that,” Fatfat told The Daily star.

Fatfat, a member of the parliamentary subcommittee studying a new draft law, noted that lawmakers agreed to Speaker Nabih Berri’s draft law that combines proportional representation with a winner-takes-all system during previous discussions.

Parliamentary sources have said that all signs point to an extension of Parliament’s term given no single party has fully approved an electoral law, except Hezbollah and its allies in the Free Patriotic Movement.

The two parties have been united in their support of the Orthodox Gathering proposal that allows each sect to vote for their own MPs.

Attempts to break the deadlock have failed, including a joint proposal prepared by the Progressive Socialist Party Movement and Future Movement.

Sources have also said that the Lebanese Forces and Kataeb Party, who voted in favor of the Orthodox proposal, have reservations over Berri’s law because it does not secure fair representation for Christians.

Asked whether he believes the country was headed toward an extension for the term of the Parliament that was elected in 2009, Fatfat said he feared a more dangerous approach.

Referring to Hezbollah and its allies, the MP said: “I think we are moving toward a complete paralysis in the country ... because one group can control everything via its military and political power.”

“We have noticed such an intention by Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah [last year] when he urged for the establishment of a national conference [on state building],” he added.

Future Movement has said the only extension the party would agree to is a technical delay that would give the Interior Ministry the time needed to prepare for elections under a new law.

Fatfat added that the Hezbollah-lead March 8 coalition doesn’t care about the negative repercussions of an international boycott or economic sanctions if elections in Lebanon were postponed.

Separately, MP Butros Harb said Friday that he is planning on proposing a new vote law that he hopes would break the deadlock surrounding the issue.

“I am preparing a proposal [based on a one-man-one-vote system] that will be ready by tomorrow,” he told The Daily Star.

The proposed voting system, which is mainly used in the United States, would allow for the election of one candidate over a single district.

“There are technical complications in terms of redistricting, but I think that would be much easier than dividing the country into sectarian pockets,” Harb, a staunch critic of the Orthodox Gathering proposal, added.

He touted the one-man-one-vote system, saying it would preserve the country’s unity.

Harb said lawmakers would have to consider his proposal which he would refer to Parliament given the current deadlock over a new electoral law.

The independent MP who is allied with the March 14 coalition said the reason the subcommittee failed to reach a solution, was each party’s intention to formulate a law that would suit its interest.

For his part, Hezbollah MP Ali Fayyad reiterated that his party would approve any law that Christian parties agree to.

"The one-man-one-vote system has never been discussed. It is a fair formula and does not differ much from proportional representation," Fayyad told the Voice of Lebanon Radio Station.

"If the Christian forces agree to it, then Hezbollah will go with the law," he added. -With additional reporting by Hasan Lakkis





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