BEIRUT: Any new electoral law should be based on the Constitution and National Pact, former Minister Mohammad Shatah said Friday.
“The formula should stem from the Constitution and the National Pact and it should not place the Lebanese in a sectarian ditch,” Shatah, an advisor to former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, told Voice of Lebanon radio station.
The country’s National Pact, an unwritten understanding among the country’s founders, stipulates that power should be shared equally between Lebanon’s Muslims and Christians.
Lawmakers are at odds over which electoral proposal to adopt and have so far failed to reach a consensus on any single draft law.
The parliamentary subcommittee discussing electoral proposals ended its work Wednesday and is preparing a report for Speaker Nabih Berri who will decide on whether to refer the conclusions of the talks to parliamentary joint committees.
Shatah said Friday that talks were ongoing among March 14 members to reach an agreement to resolve the differences which he described as threatening to shatter the alliance.
“The point of the discussions is to arrive at a detailed formula to address the [disputes], which are being exploited at the sectarian level to create a fissure among the March 14 forces,” he told the radio station.
He said the Future Movement was open to any formula that reassures the country’s different sects.
“We are open to any formula that genuinely reassures the sects and no electoral law should be used to cling to legislative power after they took control of the executive power,” he said.
In a rare show of consensus among Christian political parties in the country, the Kataeb, Free Patriotic Movement, Lebanese Forces and Marada Movement have backed the Orthodox Gathering proposal which projects Lebanon as a single district in which the different sects elect their own lawmakers.
The proposal has come under fire from the Future Movement, Progressive Socialist Party and President Michel Sleiman, who have warned the approach would only fuel sectarianism in the country.
Asked to comment on the consensus among Christian parties in the opposition on the Orthodox Gathering law, Shatah said: “We do not view them as parties from the Christian makeup [of the country] but as a wing [sect] that works with the other Lebanese Christian-Muslim wing under a unitary vision and that means there are no significant differences,” he said.
According to MPs who attended Berri’s weekly meeting with lawmakers, the speaker is keen that every effort be taken to achieve consensus on an electoral law and noted that all groups should cooperate to agree on such a law and hold elections on time.
Shatah also commented on Berri’s proposal that half of Parliament be elected using a winner-takes-all system and the other using proportional representation.
“MP Ahmad Fatfat commented on this subject but in any event these conditions and standards we have placed apply in different circumstance and I do not know how the districts would be divided under Berri’s proposal,” he said.
“There are differences on this matter in terms of the number of MPs and the division of districts because in the end there need to be clarifications in order to reassure the Christian wing that it is truly a genuine equal partner,” he added.
“We want to go beyond demographics and arrive at two level plains in terms of decisions and visions and that there should be no hegemony or a monopoly [of power],” he said.
Shatah also reiterated his party’s objection to an electoral law based on proportional representation.