Lebanon News

Activists urge Cabinet to speed up electoral reform

A man casts his vote during the municipal by-elections in the southern village of Bisarieh, Sunday, May 6, 2012. (The Daily Star/Mohammed Zaatari)

BEIRUT: The Civil Campaign for Electoral Reform (CCER) urged authorities Friday to accelerate the process of discussing a draft law for parliamentary elections and adopt reforms that will ensure they are conducted in a free and transparent manner.

In a press release, the CCER asked the Cabinet to send the draft law to Parliament within 10 days so that it is reviewed by the relevant committees before being put to a vote by Parliament’s general assembly.

“The draft law should be presented to Parliament as soon as possible so that Lebanese citizens know beforehand on what basis they are voting,” said the statement.

The CCER is a coalition of more than 50 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working on electoral reforms.

In its statement, the CCER stressed the need to adopt proportional representation, ensure a quota for women, and introduce pre-printed ballots. It also called on the Cabinet to amend the proposed structure of the Supervisory Commission on Electoral Campaign (SCEC).

“The SCEC should be a fully independent body and not subject in any way to the authority of the Ministry of Interior,” added the statement.

The SCEC is the body entrusted with managing all electoral affairs, starting from registering candidates and ending with the announcement of the results.

In its statement, the CCER expressed the hope that the Cabinet shoulder its responsibilities and not “disassociate itself from an important issue which is an essential pillar in forming the legislative authority.”

The Cabinet is expected to discuss several options for electoral laws in its Monday meeting.

Under the draft law discussed by the Cabinet, which was drafted by Interior Minister Marwan Charbel, Lebanon would be divided into 10 to 14 medium-sized districts, each larger than the current qadas.

The draft law is based on proportional representation, unlike the current electoral law which is based on a winner-take-all system in the country’s qadas.

Charbel’s proposed law also calls for each list to set aside 30 percent of its entries for candidates of the minority gender. This means that if 70 percent of a list’s candidates are men, 30 percent must be women – and vice versa.

However, Charbel’s draft law still places the SCEC under the authority of the Interior Ministry, which is seen by activists for electoral reform as a step backwards.

 

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