Hezbollah: ‘Unacceptable’ to trash proposals on “proportional representation” electoral law


Hezbollah’s parliamentary bloc leader Mohammed Raad declared on Sunday that it is “irrational and unacceptable” to trash proposals for passing an electoral law that is fully based on proportional representation in order to appease some political parties and leaders.

“It would be irrational and unacceptable to trash a law fully based on proportional representation to appease the concerns of some Lebanese, leaders or groups,” Raad emphasized.

“The new government has a major responsibility, which is devising a new electoral law, because we will not accept the 1960 law and others are also saying they won’t accept it. Let this materialize through debating a new electoral law,” Raad said .

“The mandatory path for achieving reform and change in our country is the adoption of a law that reflects the correct, fair and comprehensive representation of the Lebanese people in parliament, and such a law can only be fully based on proportional representation in a single or several expanded electoral districts,” Raad added.

Admitting that “some parties have concerns over endorsing a law fully based on proportional representation,” he said the idea should be “discussed,” not “trashed.”

“Let us discuss these concerns in order to reach a conclusion that proportional representation is a valid system,” the lawmaker went on to say.

“We fear possible settlements and deals that would lead to passing the 1960 law after adding a slight hint of proportional representation to it, in a manner that would mislead the Lebanese public opinion and delude people into thinking that an achievement has been made at the level of the electoral law,” Raad added.

“We realize that the Lebanese mosaic and the religious and sectarian components of Lebanon will hinder our endeavor to reach a correct and fair law that achieves satisfactory representation for all Lebanese,” the MP said.

Rand’s comments come after MP Ghazi Aridi of MP Walid Jumblatt’s Progressive Socialist Party stressed on Wednesday that the PSP “cannot be blackmailed with any electoral law.”

“When some parties propose the proportional representation system for sectarian motives, this has nothing to do with proportional representation, because it would not lead to political reform or correct representation in the Lebanese political system,” Aridi stressed.

“We cannot accept that the electoral law be used to intimidate any main political component in the country or to threaten to push it away from the center of political decision-making,” Aridi added.

A Free Patriotic Movement delegation had announced after talks with Jumblatt earlier this month that the PSP leader “did not flatly reject a proportional representation system that takes concerns into consideration and does not eliminate any sectarian component.”

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.