Lebanon News

Berri defends own hybrid formula

Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, left, heads a session at the Parliament in Beirut, Lebanon, Thursday, March 15, 2012. (The Daily Star/Mahmoud Kheir)

BEIRUT: Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri defended in remarks published Tuesday his own formula of a hybrid electoral law that joins both proportional representation and a winner-takes-all-system and said he was willing to convince his allies in the March 8 alliance of its merits.

“I presented a hybrid formula that [raises chances] for all camps to win in the elections,” Berri told As-Safir newspaper.

According to the speaker, the formula he has put forward would boost competition among rivals in the upcoming elections as the results of the polls could not be anticipated in advance.

“The most important thing about my hybrid formula is that its outcomes are unknown and that it is based on constructive obscurity,” Berri said.

Berri’s plan calls for 64 lawmakers to be elected based on a winner-takes-all system and another 64 to be elected under a proportional representation system.

The speaker said he was ready to convince his allies in the March 8 of the merits of his proposal, adding that the opposition March 14 coalition had failed to submit any adequate formulas.

“I am willing to assume the responsibility for my proposal, even if it requires a debate with my allies ... but in return, what is the logical, alternative proposal presented by other groups?” he asked.

“It is not enough to present [empty] proposals that can’t compete with other suggestions,” said Berri.

Earlier this month, joint parliamentary committees endorsed the Orthodox Gathering law, in a vote boycotted by the Future Movement and Progressive Socialist Party.

Berri said that he had put the Orthodox Law to a vote when he sensed Future Movement lawmakers were “maneuvering” to avoid reaching a new electoral law.

Supporters of the Orthodox law claim that it secures fair representation for Christians in Parliament.

But the Orthodox proposal, which projects Lebanon as a single electoral district where each sect votes for its own MPs under a proportional representation system, is opposed by the country’s president and prime minister, the Future Movement, Progressive Socialist Party and independent Christian MPs.

The speaker added that although he “does not defend” the Orthodox law, he understood the reasons behind its proposal.

“Such a law has been implemented in Lebanon since 1943 in the distribution of electoral districts where one sect is dominant over others,” he said.

“We have been adopting it in secret, but now we are simply adopting it in the open,” he added.





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