BEIRUT: President Michel Sleiman touted the Cabinet’s draft electoral law Saturday, saying the proposal could be the basis for a hybrid law and a roadmap for proportional representation in the future.
Meanwhile, Speaker Nabih Berri called on the joint parliamentary committees studying a new electoral law to convene on Jan. 30 to review the results from the subcommittee, which failed to reach an agreement on a proposal.
Speaking to a delegation from the Maronite League, Sleiman said the 1960 law used in the 2009 polls was no longer valid, adding that proportionality secures fairs representation.
“The 1960 electoral law resulted in categorizing people into sectarian and confessional groups and led to singular representation of Muslim sects which is the reason for calling a new law that produces pluralism and diversity for all sectarian groups and reflects the Lebanese Constitution in its political diversity and spirit,” he said.
Sleiman described the 1960 law based on a qadaa and majority system as “no longer valid because it created extremist sectarian groups.”
“Therefore, the direction was toward proportionality which opens the way for fair representation for all Lebanese sides and that proposal is in the hands of Parliament and could be discussed and amended to incorporate both proportionality and a winner-takes-all system,” the president said.
A hybrid law based on two systems has been proposed by Berri in a bid to find common ground among rival political parties and end the deadlock over the adoption of a new law for the parliamentary elections scheduled in June.
Sleiman noted that with the adoption of a new electoral law, preparations could begin for the creation of a senate – a demand by Jumblatt - which would later make way for the full adoption of proportional representation on condition that it preserves partnership between Muslim and Christians.
The president reiterated his criticism of the electoral proposal by the Orthodox Gathering that has each sect elect its own MPs, saying it would allow for the rise of extremists.
Future Movement and Jumblatt along with Sleiman and the prime minister have rejected the Orthodox draft law despite the fact that most Christian figures have supported it.
The president has come under attack from some Christian figures for opposing a law that has received Christian consensus.
Sleiman and Mikati, however, have thrown their support behind the Cabinet’s own draft law based on proportionality and which divides Lebanon into 13-medium-sized districts.
Hezbollah joined forces with the supporters of the Orthodox law when its chief Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah said Friday that his MPs would vote in favor of that proposal if it was referred to Parliament.
Nasrallah also said that his party would adopt any law based on proportional representation – a system staunchly opposed by Future Movement and Jumblatt.
Public Works Minister Ghazi Aridi said Saturday that Kamal Jumblatt, Walid’s father and one of Lebanon’s most respected figures, was the first one to call for proportional representation, saying his party was still open for suggestions.
“Proportionality the way it was proposed by Kamal Jumblatt was part of a reform program for the political system in Lebanon through its electoral system, therefore, we agree with proportionality that could lead to relative stability ... That is why we are ready to discuss it,” Aridi told reporters in the coastal city of Sidon.