Berri says no to parliament extension, 1960 Law and vacuum


Berri - don't mess with meLebanon Speaker Nabih Berri rejected on Wednesday three possible scenarios .He stressed his objection to extending the parliament’s term, to holding upcoming elections under the 1960 law and to plunging the country into parliamentary vacuum.

“No to extension, no the 1960 law and no to vacuum,”Berri was quoted as telling MPs during his weekly meeting with lawmakers in Ain el-Tineh.

“It is required to exert efforts to pass a new law as soon as possible or else we would enter a dangerous phase with the beginning of April,” Berri warned.

Berri reiterated that “the government should discuss and approve this law and refer it to parliament,” noting that the electoral law is the government’s “top priority.”

The speaker also noted that “the national interest requires reaching an electoral law containing proportional representation.”

“Under such a law, we would be getting rid of sectarianism while preserving the sects,” Berri pointed out.

Berri’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.

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 .

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 the modified 1960 winner takes all system. 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 is trying to use its arms 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 . Thd next elections are scheduled for May 2017.