Jumblatt, Aoun discuss electoral law


aoun 2017A Progressive Socialist party delegation met with President Michel Aoun on Wednesday, where talks focused on the controversial electoral law, amid reports saying that the PSP leader

MP Walid Jumblatt who favors the 1960 electoral law  headed to Baabda today ,  to meet with president Michel Aoun

Jumblatt was accompanied by a  Progressive Socialist Party delegation that included  MPs: Wael Abou Faour, Ghazi al-Aridi, Akram Shehayyeb, Alaa Terro and Henri Helou.

Jumblatt reportedly  planned to suggest some amendments to the 1960 electoral law which has been rejected by Aoun and his key ally Hezbollah  who prefer the proportional representation law

Aridi, who spoke to reporters after the meeting, said that  sectarianism and proportional representation law   do not together

Insisting on diversity and partnership, Aridi remarked: “If the standards are to adopt proper representation (for the upcoming parliamentary polls), we hope that the opinion of the Druze community is taken into consideration.”

Earlier, reports have said that the PSP delegation carries ideas of amendments that Jumblatt believes would develop the 1960 law, and help “save everyone’s face.”

They added that the MP is expected to put forward a suggestion to create a new governorate that includes the Chouf and Aley areas, and to reconsider the distribution of MPs in Beirut, North Lebanon, West and North Bekaa to ensure proper representation at parliament.

Lebanon is divided into eight governorates (mohafazah): Akkar, Baalbek-Hermel, Beirut, Bekaa, Mount Lebanon, Nabatieh, North Lebanon and South Lebanon.

In 2003, the number of Lebanese governorates increased from six to eight. Two governorates were created, Baalbek-Hermel (formerly part of the Bekaa) and Akkar Governorate (formerly part of North Lebanon).

Mount Lebanon includes Aley, Baabda, Chouf, Jbeil (Byblos), Keserwan and Metn districts.

Aoun  defended on Tuesday  proportional representation electoral  system stressing that endorsing it  guarantees proper representation in the upcoming parliamentary elections and  stated that fears of it  are not justified.

“Our utmost priority is to stage the parliamentary elections based on a new electoral law that guarantees proper representation for all Lebanese factions,” said Aoun in a speech during a meeting with the diplomatic corps at Baabda palace.

“Concerns of some political parties over endorsing a proportional representation system are unjustified. Only a proportional system is capable of ensuring proper and just representation for all parties,” added the President.

He then added: “Some might lose their seats at parliament shall this system be applied but in the end we will all win the country’s stability.”

“My will as president of Lebanon is to dedicate this position to embracing the unique Lebanese composition that is based on diversity, which has proven over the years an ability to confront challenges,” said Aoun.

“My will is to provide stability at the security, political, economic, social and financial levels to enable Lebanon to restore the positive role known to all on the international arena. We have started setting the plans for that, and some of these plans are on their way to implementation.”

The President also stressed that he is keen on protecting Lebanon’s sovereignty and preserving its national unity.

His comments come a day after the  party that he founded , the  Free Patriotic Movement warned Monday of “ revolution” should the political forces fail to agree  on a new electoral law to replace the so called 1960  law.

This development also comes after Speaker Nabih Berri and Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq  announced that the country is likely headed to parliamentary elections under the 1960 electoral law due to the parties’ failure to agree on a new law.

Aoun’s ally , the Iranian backed Hezbollah has repeatedly called for an electoral law fully based on proportional representation but other political parties, especially the Future Movement, have rejected the proposal and argued that the party’s controversial arsenal of arms would prevent serious competition in regions where the Iran-backed party has clout.In 2013 Lebanese Forces and The Future Movement backed by the PSP agreed on a hybrid electoral law which calls for 54% of the MPs to be elected under the majoritarian winner-takes-all system and 46 % under the proportional representation system. This draft law was rejected by the Hezbollah-led March 8 opposition.

Also in 2013 Future Movement leader PM Saad Hariri rejected the electoral 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 Hezbollah weapons in them.

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 .

According to analysts Hezbollah wants to dominate Lebanon by insisting on adopting the proportional law in a single or several expanded electoral districts.

The country has not voted for a parliament since 2009, with the legislature instead twice extending its own mandate.

The 2009 polls were held under an amended version of the 1960 electoral law and the next elections are scheduled for May 2017.