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Kataeb submits hybrid electoral proposal

Kataeb MP Sami Gemayel walk to Parliament surrounded by soldiers in Beirut on Friday, Jan. 11, 2013. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)

BEIRUT: MP Sami Gemayel presented Wednesday the Kataeb Party’s formula for a hybrid electoral law, which envisages 60 percent of Parliament seats be won through a winner-takes-all system and the remainder according to proportional representation.

Also Wednesday, Hezbollah voiced reservations over a recent proposal put forward by the Future Movement.

The Kataeb lawmaker said his party’s formula, which divides Lebanon into 9 electoral districts based on proportional representation and 36 districts based on a winner-takes-all system, took into consideration both the fair representation that Christians deserved and political balances in the country.

Lebanese Forces MP George Adwan, who spoke in Parliament following the day’s first round of talks, said that the lawmakers agreed to compare the proposals in hand to reach a common law.

A parliamentary subcommittee of both March 8 and March 14 lawmakers is discussing different suggestions over the hybrid law that joins both the proportional representation system and a winner-takes-all-system.

Several proposals over the hybrid law have been put forward during the subcommittee meetings.

Future MP Ahmad Fatfat, who put forward his party’s hybrid formula earlier this week, said Tuesday his party’s proposal would see 70 percent of Parliament’s seats filled via a winner-takes-all system with the rest through proportional representation.

MP Akram Shehayeb, from the Progressive Socialist Party, has put forward a similar formula to that of the Future Movement. However, the two parties differ in terms of the distribution of districts.

MP Ali Bazzi, from Speaker Nabih Berri's Development and Liberation parliamentary bloc, has suggested Parliament be split equally between lawmakers elected on the basis of proportional representation and the winner-takes-all system.

Berri warned in comments published Wednesday that if the subcommittee failed to agree on his party’s proposal within its mandated period, the only alternative would be to return to the Orthodox Gathering proposal.

The Orthodox Gathering law, which projects Lebanon as a single district wherein each sect elects its MPs under a proportional representation system, has gained a rare consensus among Christian parties. The proposal also has the support of Hezbollah. But it has been met with strong opposition from the president, prime minister, Future Movement, PSP and independent Christian MPs.

Berri has set Feb. 15 as the deadline for the subcommittee to wrap up its work.

Adwan, the LF politician, said that the subcommittee would refer several draft laws to the joint parliamentary committees.

“Even if we don’t reach consensus over an electoral draft law, we will refer to the joint parliamentary committees several draft laws with our recommendations,” he said.

However, Gemayel warned that if the subcommittee failed to reach agreement, the country would face “open political battle.”

The head of the subcommittee, MP Robert Ghanem, voiced hope following the first round of talks that the lawmakers would reach common ground that could unite the rival coalitions.

Ahead of the subcommittee’s meeting earlier in the day, Hezbollah MP Ali Fayyad voiced reservations to the Future Movement’s hybrid electoral proposal.

“The Future [Movement’s] proposal only allows for three Sunni lawmakers to be elected based on proportional representation, none of which will be for a Beirut seat,” said Fayyad.

Fayyad said further discussions would be needed to reach a middle ground among MPs.

“The points of convergence between the subcommittee members are still very few and we still need more time to reach a common ground,” he said.

March 8 MPs Bazzi and Alain Aoun, a member in MP Michel Aoun Free Patriotic Movement, also voiced objections to the Future Movement proposal, saying it did not allow fair representation for Christians.

The MPs, who spoke ahead of the subcommittee meeting, argued the Future Movement plan would not ensure the election of 55 Christian MPs through Christian votes as Fatfat had claimed Tuesday. Instead, they said it would only ensure 40 Christian lawmakers would be elected via Christian votes.

Lebanon’s parliamentary elections are due to be held in early June.

 

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