The meetings of the electoral reform parliamentary committee have become a joke. The comedy of the situation is underlined after each meeting, when the committee head emerges to tell the public they have, in fact, spent their time discussing serious and important matters, as if that in itself should be considered an achievement.
Meanwhile, each faction within the committee emerges with a different story of what has been discussed, united only in their declarations that every one of them has drawn a different red line or veto over the talks. They appear to take pride in this obstinacy, but in reality they are holding the country back, making a positive approach impossible.
They are merely wasting time, a commodity in short supply this close to the planned election date.
Continuing to discuss electoral reform in this manner is merely giving false hope to those in Lebanon and the rest of the world who still believe the elections may take place on time.
Indeed, the country’s officials are maintaining that a solution will be found before the current deadline.
Yet the leadership has already provided itself a way out of the problem of coming to a consensus, by introducing the idea that polls may have to be delayed for technical issues, if they do not have enough time to implement a new system.
Attributing the postponement of the elections to technical issues would, of course, be merely a semantic tool to try and disguise the failure of the country’s politicians to come to an agreement.
The meetings of the parliamentary committee to discuss this reform are, theoretically, held so that the various factions in Lebanon can come together and overcome their differences to create a law based on the democratic principles that the country supposedly respects.
Instead, what emerges is that each party is unwilling to let go of whichever voting principle guarantees their own interests.
Sadly, any optimism surrounding the elections taking place on time, with a fair and democratic electoral law, is diminishing by the day. If, in four years, the Parliament has been unable to reach a consensus, it is unlikely to do so in the next few weeks.
What is likely to occur is a situation that maintains the status quo, in a bid for a false sense of security. The truth, which these politicians are unwilling to acknowledge, is that an electoral law effectively imposed by a majority, rather than created by a genuine consensus, will remain a powder keg, awaiting a catalyst to bring the country to crisis point.
Rather than wasting time, this committee and the country’s leaders should have the courage and responsibility to admit that agreement at this stage is impossible. Continuing the uncertainty over the elections is spreading uncertainty over other areas, harming business and future investment.
After the difficult recent months, that is the last thing the country needs.