BEIRUT: Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri has ruled out any impasse over a new electoral law and says the subcommittee discussing electoral proposals must continue working until consensus is reached.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Najib Mikati defended his Cabinet’s electoral proposal but suggested that an electoral law that uses both the winner-takes-all system and proportional representation be put forward should a consensus by lawmakers fail to materialize.
“There is no deadlock. On the contrary I found that everybody has good intentions,” Berri said in remarks published Wednesday by An-Nahar newspaper.
Berri was commenting on the subcommittee’s final report that was submitted to him Tuesday by subcommittee chairman MP Robert Ghanem.
“I came out with a good impression after reading the report and found readiness among all parties to follow the path of consensus in order to reach common ground that would eventually lead to the creation of a draft election law,” he said.
Berri said he has instructed Ghanem to continue working until a consensus by all members is reached, adding that the team should hold one meeting per day.
Agreement on a new electoral law for this year’s parliamentary polls appeared vague Tuesday as rival political factions stood firm on their conflicting stances.
The wide split over a new election law also manifested itself within a parliamentary subcommittee as representatives from the March 8 and March 14 parties began the second phase of their tough mission by searching for common ground on the legislation.
The feuding parties represented on the subcommittee traded barbs over responsibility for the delay in approving a new electoral law to replace the 1960 system, which has been rejected by officials on both sides of the political divide.
The 1960 law, which adopts the qada as an electoral district and is based on a winner-takes-all system, was used in the 2009 parliamentary polls.
Meanwhile, Mikati said in remarks published Wednesday that he still backed the government’s electoral draft law which projects Lebanon as 13 electoral districts under a system of proportional representation.
“I support the law submitted by the Cabinet to Parliament and I feel it is my duty to defend it until the end,” Mikati, who spoke to As-Safir newspaper, said.
However, the prime minister proposed that an alternative be considered should lawmakers fail to reach a consensus on the government’s proposal.
Mikati advocated a combination of a winner-takes-all system and proportional representation as a way of reconciling differences among politicians.
“The half/half combination would get Lebanon out of the dispute over the electoral law and satisfy those calling for proportional representation and those for majority representation,” said Mikati.
According to Mikati, half of Parliament, with its 128 seats, could be allocated to MPs elected on the basis of a winner-takes-all system and the other half could be go to lawmakers voted in on the basis of proportional representation.
The prime minister added that the Parliament would have the final say regarding the proposed electoral draft laws.
“The ball is now in the court of Parliament which has the final say on the electoral draft law suggested by the government or any other proposal,” Mikati added.