Lebanon News

New electoral law needed to avoid delaying polls: Charbel

Interior Minister Marwan Charbel arrives at Nejmeh Square in Beirut to attend a Parliament session on Wednesday, March 21, 2012. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)

BEIRUT: Any delays in arriving at a draft electoral law could lead to a “technical postponement” in holding the upcoming parliamentary elections, Interior Minister Marwan Charbel warned Tuesday.

“If a new election law has not been approved before the end of February, a technical postponement becomes inevitable,” Charbel told The Daily Star.

“Administrative, security and logistics preparations require a great deal of time, particularly picking an election supervising committee,” Charbel said, when asked to elaborate on “a technical postponement.”

His comments come as a parliamentary team struggles to agree on a draft electoral law to govern the 2013 elections, which are due in early June.

The parliamentary subcommittee appeared Monday to be marking time after two lawmakers announced the death of a hybrid vote proposal that could have broken the deadlock over which legislation best ensures fair representation for all sects.

The panel, made up of MPs from the two main political camps – March 8 and March 14 – met to examine a hybrid vote proposal that combines proportional representation and a winner-takes-all system.

However, statements by team members after the meeting clearly indicated that the gap was still very wide over a new electoral legislation.

The subcommittee will resume discussions Tuesday morning in yet another bid to try and find common ground.

For his part, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri was quoted by the daily Ad-Diyar on Tuesday as expressing fears that elections could be postponed.

“Elections based on the 1960 law are out of the question and there are concerns that elections won’t be held in the event a new electoral law is not approved,” Berri was quoted as telling visitors.

The 1960 election law adopts the qada as an electoral district and is based on a winner-takes-all system.

Berri has also apparently responded positively to a demand by Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblatt for a senate to be established.

"I’m ready for electing both a Parliament and a Senate simultaneously,” Berri said in separate remarks published Tuesday by the local newspaper As-Safir.





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