Lebanon Prime Minister Najib Mikati reiterated on Friday that the government is committed to the draft electoral law that it referred to parliament, but at the same time it is also committed to staging the elections before the term of the parliament expires and if no agreement is reached over a new electoral law then the existing 1960 law will be adopted for the 2013 elections.
“An active law already exists, that of the 1960 law,” which was adopted during the 2009 elections, he remarked.
“We are obligated by the law and constitution to stage the elections before the end of the term of the current parliament as speled out in the existing law,” he explained and added “an electoral law already exists, that of the 1960 law which was adopted during the 2009 elections’ , he remarked adding ” in the absence of any new law , the existing 1960 law will be adopted”
“From a political perspective, I oppose the 1960 law, but the law and constitution allow me to adopt it in this year’s polls despite the objection voiced by political powers,” Mikati stressed.
“One must distinguish between political and legal positions,” he said and added: From the legal standpoint , the law obligates the government to hold the elections under the active electoral law which is the 1960 law.”
He urged the parliament to convene and decide on a news law , stressing that if it fails to do so, then he will have to go ahead with the 1960 law.
Speaker Nabih Berri slammed last January Lebanese Interior Minister Marwan Charbel over his statement to As Safir about basing the 2013 elections on the 1960 electoral law, by saying those who believe that they can hold the parliamentary elections based on the 1960 law are “ignorant.”
“The polls will not be held based on the 1960 law,” Berri told As Safir newspaper. “Those who think it is possible to hold them based on this law are ignorant of the legal and constitutional reality .”
“Article 11 of the 1960 law says the independent authority overseeing the elections should be established based on a cabinet decision … But the government will not form this authority as long as its parties along with the president are rejecting the 1960 law,” Berri stressed.
“This automatically means that there won’t be any elections based on this law for legal reasons,” he said.
It appears that Mikati’s statements today could get him in trouble with Berri, a key Hezbollah ally that also rejects the 1960 law.
The parliamentary subcommittee charged with agreeing on an electoral has met several times to discuss the following proposed draft-laws:
Proportional Representation ( PR)
Lebanon’s Cabinet approved last August an electoral draft law which is referred to as the Charbel law ( in reference to Interior minister Marwan Charbel ) that called for proportional representation and divided the country into 13 districts as follows: Beirut 2, south Lebanon 2, Bekaa 3, north Lebanon 3 , Mount Lebanon 3.
The new electoral law was approved by the majority of cabinet ministers, including the Free Patriotic Movement Ministers (FPM) . However the 3 ministers that represent Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblatt’s bloc voted against it.
According to analysts Proportional representation has long been an objective of Shiite representatives, long before the formation of Hezbollah in the 1980s—and even before Amal’s in the 1970’s. Yet, support for PR has put the Shiite political parties at odds with others and specially the Christians and the Sunnis.
FPM MPs Alain Aoun and Neemtallah Abi Nasr submitted another draft electoral law to the parliament even though the FPM ministers voted for the PR system . This is the so called “Greek Orthodox gathering proposal” which calls on each sect in Lebanon to vote only for its candidate in the elections based on one electoral district for the whole country .
A Christian four-party panel on the electoral law agreed last month to endorse the so-called Orthodox Gathering proposal
The panel took its decision during a meeting held in Bkirki. The four-party panel comprises representatives from the Free Patriotic Movement, the Lebanese Forces, the Phalange Party and the Marada Movement.
The Orthodox law was also criticized by President Michel Suleiman, former PM Saad Hariri , PM Mikati, Jumblat and several other Christian MPs specially those belonging to the Greek Orthodox sect
March 14 Christian MPs Georges Adwan, Boutros Harb and Sami Gemayel submitted a draft electoral law based on 50 districts and winner take all majority to the Parliament’s General Secretariat last October.
Most March 14 politicians prefer this law but it is opposed by all the Hezbollah led March 8 alliance
1960 electoral law
This is the current law which is based on the Qada( county) as the electoral district.
Jumblatt and his PSP MPs still favor this 1960 majoritarian (or “winner take all”) system, but almost all the other lebanese politicians in March 14 ,March 8 and president Suleiman reject this law and call it unfair
Boutros commission electoral draft-law
In 2006, the government-appointed National Commission for a New Electoral Law, known as the Boutros Commission, authored a draft law that proposed major changes to the 1960 electoral system, but the recommendations have since been shelved.
The Boutros Commission called for a hybrid electoral law, under which 77 of Parliament’s 128 members would be elected by winner-take-all, and the remaining 51 members would be elected by proportional representation.
Several amendments to the above proposals have been also submitted by various political groups. Speaker Berri submitted an amendment to the Boutros commission draft law that calls for 50% of the MPs be elected on the basis of a majoritarian winner-take-all system, while the remaining 50% be elected by way of proportional representation.
Former PM Hariri rejected the law that is based on proportional representation because there will be competition in some regions, but there cannot be any competition in other regions, because of the presence of weapons in them, he told LBC
Hariri was referring to the 2009 election in the areas dominated by Hezbollah. According to the reports that surfaced back then Hezbollah gunmen prevented their rivals from voting and the results of the election showed it. On the other hand in the March 14 dominated areas several Hezbollah backed candidates won the election that was based on winner take all . In a proportional representation system Hezbollah will be able to gain more seats in the March 14 dominated areas but will not lose any seats in its dominated areas as long as it is allowed to keep its arms and use them internally for political gain .
Hariri added that if the Hezbollah-led March 8 alliance had won the last elections, they wouldn’t have wanted to change the law now .