BEIRUT: The Lebanese government has turned down a decree by the Interior Ministry to call for elections in light of a failure among lawmakers to reach consensus on a new electoral proposal for the June polls, sources close to the prime minister said Saturday.
“Interior Minister Marwan Charbel has referred a decree calling for elections to Parliament. The Cabinet discussed the referral last week and rejected it given that politicians have yet to approve a new law,” sources close to Prime Minister Najib Mikati told The Daily Star.
It is routine for the Interior Ministry to issue a decree calling for the electorate to ready for the elections a month prior to the polls in order to give the president sufficient time to approve or reject the decree.
Politicians are at an impasse over what electoral law to adopt for the upcoming parliamentary elections. The general elections of 2009 were held under what is commonly referred to as the “1960 law,” a qada-based, winner-takes-all system.
Mikati’s sources ruled out the call for the elections until a new electoral law is approved, “particularly given that Speaker Nabih Berri has announced the death of the 1960 law.”
“Berri’s remarks have exacerbated the deadlock over a new electoral law. What is urgently needed now is for the approval of a new law because time is running out,” one source said.
Berri along with most of the country’s political parties have objected to a return to the 1960 law, arguing that it fails to ensure proper representation.
The Progressive Socialist Party, headed by MP Walid Jumblatt, is one of the few parties that favor the 1960 law over other proposals.
MPs, who have only a limited left to discuss electoral proposals, are currently discussing the possibility of approving a hybrid law which combines both proportional representation and the winner-takes-all system.
The Hezbollah-led March 8 coalition, which enjoys a majority in Mikati’s Cabinet, has rejected elections based on a majority system, arguing for the approval of the Orthodox Gathering law, which projects Lebanon as a single electoral district wherein individual sects elect their respective lawmakers.
Jumblatt, President Michel Sleiman and Mikati have voiced opposition toward the Orthodox law, which enjoys a rare consensus among the country’s Christian political parties.
The Future Movement, which also opposes the Orthodox Gathering law, has recently put forward several proposals, including an electoral law that sees the elections being held under a winner-takes-all system with Lebanon divided in 36 electoral districts.
However, the Free Patriotic Movement, a March 8 coalition party, has rejected the Future Movement proposal.