Although the Orthodox Gathering’s draft electoral law is not a shoo-in for Parliament’s general assembly, parliamentary sources say the joint committees’ adoption of the proposal Tuesday is a step toward resolving the issue of how to govern the upcoming elections.
Parliamentary sources from the majority say Speaker Nabih Berri called for a vote on the controversial draft, despite a walkout by Future Movement and Progressive Socialist Party MPs, so that he would have a strong basis for which to convince March 14 to come up with an alternative hybrid law.
MPs say Berri warned opposition members that they would need to make real concessions if an agreement is to be reached to spare the country from the danger of postponing elections.
Several MPs say that although the Orthodox law is currently the only draft that the general assembly has to discuss, lawmakers can still suggest other alternatives during its session.
They add that the Cabinet’s proposal is now on stronger footing, given the intense opposition by some groups to the Orthodox Gathering proposal.
Lawmakers are divided on whether the proposal would garner enough votes to pass the general assembly, and some say that numerical majority is not enough – all parties need to agree if elections are to be held without incident.
This is important given that a significant portion of Lebanese society, notably Druze and many Sunnis, agree with former Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s Tuesday comment on Twitter that the committees’ decision was a “black day” for Parliament.
It is also believed that President Michel Sleiman would challenge the law in the Constitutional Council if it were to pass the assembly.
Now, MPs say, discussions will focus on whether an agreement is truly possible. If not, a deal must be reached on how long the elections should be postponed.