Every day that passes seems to bring with it a new electoral law proposal, and as the universally unpopular suggestions inevitably lead nowhere, each day also brings the country closer to missing the scheduled election date.
But Saad Hariri’s detailed proposal Thursday night seems to go some way toward breaking the ice.
From his suggestion of a senate, to address Christian fears, to his small-district proposal, Hariri’s plan seems the closest yet to bridging that gap between sectarian concerns and electoral fairness.
Until now, the blind politicking which seems to have inspired virtually all of the myriad electoral law proposals thus far reveals that these proposals seek not to unite the country, or provide the best opportunity for political representation to the greatest number of people but in fact are seemingly aimed at promoting the powers of a certain party or group ahead of others.
None of these laws, thus far, seem to have been motivated by what is best for the country, or inspired by long-term considerations about the future. Rather, they are self-preservationist and concerned only with the present and very near future.
Putting aside concerns about holding elections on time, it is first essential to have a frank, honest discussion about what is best for all stakeholders. A representative, fair election law will not appear as if by magic as long as so many of the players involved are still guided by existential worries, and living in fear of other parties, whom they see only as rivals.
In order to reach a consensus, and to produce a strong electoral law which will endure, the points that unite everyone must be drawn up and built upon. The Constitution must be referred to, as must the individual fears of each sect.
The talks must also happen transparently, so the population has access to the decision-making process.
At the end of the day, elections are meant to allow citizens access to representation in government. They are not designed to strengthen and maintain systems of power and patronage. Therefore it is the people, not the party leaders, which should really determine which electoral law will be implemented.
As it stands, the players seems to be competing in a petty game, and trying to outdo the others with their declarations of patriotism, all the while condemning other sides for not having the nation’s best interests at heart.
It is time for these disagreements to be put aside, for it is the Lebanese people who will suffer.
Granted the plan Hariri came up with on the issue might not gain unanimous support, but at least he has opened the door for a serious discussion to seek a solution to flaws of the entire election process.