BEIRUT: Kataeb leader Amin Gemayel expressed pessimism Monday about the possibility of parliamentary elections being held on time Monday.
Meanwhile, a hybrid electoral proposal would be the best way out of the country’s electoral crisis, MP Butros Harb said Monday after talks with Speaker Nabih Berri.
Speaking to reporters following his party's weekly meeting, Gemayel said the major obstacle preventing the adoption of a new electoral law is "that we are not capable of reaching an agreement on a law that would pave the way for elections to be held on time."
"The core of the problem is not the Orthodox Gathering law but the fact that we are not able to reach consensus ... but all our concern and efforts are concentrated on finding a solution," Gemayel said.
He added that his party presented two alternative draft laws to the Orthodox proposal, both of which were rejected.
Harb, a staunch critic of the Orthodox law, said a hybrid law that combines proportionality and a majority system is the most optimal solution to the electoral deadlock.
“We should adopt a law that joins both proportional representation and a winner-takes-all-system and does not put elections at risk,” said Harb, following talks with Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri about the elections.
Harb was among a group of independent Christian politicians who visited Berri in his Ain al-Tineh residence for talks over the electoral law.
“We had a very useful meeting with Berri and we held in-depth discussions over the elections,” said Harb.
A parliamentary subcommittee recently engaged in more than a month of electoral talks discussed among other electoral proposals different formulas of a hybrid vote law that joins both a proportional and a winner-takes-all vote system.
During the subcommittee’s meetings which ended earlier this month, different political parties submitted their own formulas over the hybrid vote initially put forward by Berri, and by which 64 lawmakers are elected based on a winner-takes-all system and another 64 under a proportional representation system.
Harb said that some parties had reservations over Berri’s proposal and what is required now is to reach a compromise formula over the hybrid law among political rivals.
“Some parties consider that Berri’s proposal is unfair for them and we are trying to reach a common formula,” said Harb.
He added that discussions with other officials will continue in the hopes of reaching an agreement that would lead to “electoral stability.”
The failure of the subcommittee to reach a consensus on a hybrid formula or any other electoral law led to the approval of the Orthodox Gathering law by the parliamentary joint committees.
The approval drew the criticism of the Orthodox proposal opponents and plunged the country further into futile debate as still no agreement on a new vote law for the elections was reached.
MP Ibrahim Kanaan, of MP Michel Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement, said that no alternative to the Orthodox Gathering proposal has been presented yet.
“There is still no proposal other than the Orthodox law that secures equal sharing between Muslims and Christians,” said Kanaan, who met with Berri later during the day.
Aoun’s FPM, the fiercest supporter of the Orthodox law, argues that the proposal secures fair representation for Christians in Parliament, arguing that the right of Christians to elect their own lawmakers has long been denied through the previous electoral vote laws.
However, the Orthodox proposal, which projects Lebanon as a single district and under which each sect votes for its own lawmakers under a proportional representation system, was rejected by the president, the prime minister, the Future Movement, Progressive Socialist Party and independents Christians.
MP Robert Ghanem, who recently headed the parliamentary subcommittee engaged in electoral talks, renewed criticism Monday of the Orthodox Gathering law, reiterating that such a proposal leads to more sectarian divisions in the country.
“The Orthodox [law] isolates sects from each other, which could cause a civil war in the country,” said Ghanem speaking during a press conference in Parliament.
He added that if adopted, the Orthodox law will provide a “legitimate cover for a new civil war” in Lebanon.
Meanwhile, former Deputy Speaker Elie Ferzli, the founder of the Orthodox law, defended his proposal Monday saying that it is a constitutional bid and it enhances Muslim-Christian co-existence, despite what its opponents say.
“The Orthodox draft law is constitutional and has more positive [elements] than negative ones,” said Ferzli following a meeting of the Orthodox Gathering in Ashrafieh.
“We don’t aim at causing sectarian splits among the different factions,” he added.