BEIRUT: Rival lawmakers launched Monday discussions into the possibility of adopting a hybrid electoral proposal for the upcoming elections in what Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri has described as a “crucial week.”
“This week will be crucial in terms of the work of the parliamentary electoral subcommittee,” Berri told As-Safir newspaper.
He added there was a possibility of extending the meetings of the subcommittee studying a new electoral law if the outcome of the talks was positive.
“If I feel that some positive developments have emerged from the subcommittee’s discussions, then I will extend the mission of the subcommittee,” the speaker said.
However, Berri warned that he would refer the proposed electoral draft laws to the joint parliamentary committees if the lawmakers fail to find common ground.
The hybrid draft law, combining proportional representation and a majority system, is seen as the optimal proposal for the country given the sharp divide among the main political parties over the proposed drafts so far.
Hezbollah MP Ali Fayyad told reporters before stepping into the meeting that lawmakers are expected to voice their parties’ stance over the proposal following days of inter-party talks.
Free Patriotic Movement MP Alain Aoun said the committee was waiting for the response of the Future Movement and the Progressive Socialist Party over the hybrid electoral law.
The idea to combine two electoral systems surfaced after former Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s Future Movement, Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblatt, President Michel Sleiman, Prime Minister Najib Mikati and a number of independent Christians opposed the Orthodox Gathering proposal put forward by the Maronite church that won consensus from the four major Christian parties.
The Orthodox proposal stipulates each sect elects its own lawmakers under a system of proportional representation with Lebanon as a single district.
The Lebanese Forces has said that the Orthodox law should be referred to Parliament for a vote if the joint parliamentary committees fail to reach a consensus over a certain proposal.
Speaking to As-Safir, Berri said that all efforts should be exerted to reach a consensus over an electoral law agreed upon by all parties before resorting to Parliament and the joint committees supposed to discuss the electoral proposals.
“This will be the last option ... before resorting to Parliament, we should try to reach a consensus over an electoral law and that requires steps forward from all parties to eventually meet halfway,” said Berri.
Other proposals including ones put forward by the March 14 coalition and the Cabinet have been rejected by various parties.