Lebanon News

Lawmakers seek to extend debate on electoral law

MP George Adwan arrives at the Parliament in Downtown Beirut, Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013. (The Daily Star/Mahmoud Kheir)

BEIRUT: Lawmakers are seeking to extend discussion on a new electoral law to debate the possibility of adopting a hybrid proposal, Lebanese Forces MP George Adwan said Tuesday.

“I will propose the idea of extending the work of the subcommittee for 15 days for a specific task and that is to discuss a hybrid electoral law because there are minor shared views on that proposal that could be expanded,” Adwan told reporters in Parliament.

He will suggest the extension during Wednesday’s meeting for the joint committees tasked with studying a new electoral law.

Adwan added that the hybrid law, combining both proportional representation and a winner-takes-all system, could narrow the divide among rival parties.

Adwan’s remarks come after the subcommittee finalized its report on its meetings that will be referred to the joint committees.

The subcommittee was tasked with discussing the distribution of districts and the type of voting system to be adopted for the 2013 polls but failed to reach an agreement on any of the proposed drafts.

Future Movement has said that it would not attended Wednesday’s session for the joint committees in line with its boycott of the government. Two ministers are expected to attend the meeting.

A majority of the subcommittee voted in favor of the Orthodox Gathering law – staunchly opposed by the Future Movement and MP Walid Jumblatt who reject proportional representation.

Opponents of the Orthodox proposal which says every sect should elect its own MPs based on proportionality argue that such a law would strengthen sectarian divisions and allow for the rise of extremists.

During his conversation with reporters, Adwan said Speaker Nabih Berri and Hezbollah agreed to his proposal, adding that the government’s presence was not important at the session so that Future lawmakers could attend.

“That way, we could go to Parliament with a draft law that has received the approval of the partners,” he said.

Future MP Ahmad Fatfat voiced his party’s readiness to attend the committee meeting Wednesday provided that ministers of Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s Cabinet are absent.

Kataeb MP Sami Gemayel agreed with Adwan’s proposal, saying: “We support any step that would help Lebanese produce a fair electoral law.”

Meanwhile, Maronite Cardinal Beshara Rai said Tuesday a new electoral law should that best fits the country's interest rather than that of politicians.

"It is necessary to reach an electoral law tailored for the nation and based on personal interests,” Rai was quoted by local media as saying.

Head of the Future Parliamentary bloc MP Fouad Siniora has said his party will propose a new electoral law that would address the concerns for Christians.

Head of the party, former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, is expected to announce the proposal that media reports have indicated could combine both proportionality and a majority system to suit the demands of the various groups.





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