Lebanon News

Future seeking common ground over vote law: source

Future Movement lawmaker Ammar Houry, center, speaks during a session at the Parliament in Beirut, Lebanon, Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2011. (Mahmoud Kheir/The Daily Star)

BEIRUT: The Future Movement has been holding intensive consultations with its allies as well as the Progressive Socialist Party in a bid to reach common ground over a new electoral law for the parliamentary polls, a source in the party told The Daily Star Tuesday.

The March 14 party is also discussing with the PSP the Cabinet-endorsed proposal and is open to talks on a hybrid vote law, but not as put forward by Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, the source said.

“We are maintaining contact with different political groups to reach an electoral law that wins the approval of everyone,” the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said.

He said the head of the Future parliamentary bloc, MP Fouad Siniora, met with Kataeb leader Amin Gemayel Monday as part of the series of talks with Christian politicians and figures in the country.

Extensive meetings are also being held between the party, which leads the opposition, and MP Walid Jumblatt’s Progressive Socialist Party to reach agreement on a new electoral draft, he added.

Siniora’s talks are broad in scope and do not focus exclusively on any single electoral proposal, he said.

“Different proposals are being discussed,” the Future Movement source said, adding: “One of them is the Cabinet’s proposal,” referring to the Cabinet draft which would see polls being held under a proportional representation system with Lebanon divided into 13 electoral districts.

In remarks published Tuesday, Jumblatt confirmed that his PSP and the Future Movement are in talks over the Cabinet draft endorsed in 2012.

“We are carrying out discussions based on the electoral draft law proposed by Cabinet and we might reach a deal between the March 8 and 14 forces over the matter after modifying it,” he told As-Safir.

According to the source, the Future Movement opposes the Cabinet proposal in its present form but does not rule out the possibility of amending it.

“We are totally opposed to the government proposal in its present form but we are not against amending it to reach a common formula with other political groups,” he said.

Jumblatt, who has previously opposed the Cabinet proposal, told As-Safir he was not against the government draft law per se, but against proportional representation in general.

However, he added that there was an urgent need to bridge the gap between rival groups.

“I was opposing the adoption of an electoral law based completely on proportional representation,” he said, adding that the Cabinet proposal is “good and might open certain horizons that would end the tension and division.”

As for the hybrid formula endorsed by Berri, the source said: “We [Future Movement] are open to the hybrid vote law, but not as Berri suggested it.”

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.

Hezbollah MP Ammar Musawi met Tuesday with President Michel Sleiman and discussed recent political developments, according to the latter’s office.

The two emphasized the need for political parties to reach an understanding over a new electoral law that would meet the national aspirations of the Lebanese.





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