Hezbollah rejects PSP’s proposed electoral law


hezbollah-in-black-paradeA four-party meeting that was held at the Center House Sunday evening failed to reach a deal on a new electoral law for Lebanon’s parliamentary polls, as Hezbollah party rejected the electoral law proposed by the Progressive Socialist Party,Lebanese media reported on Tuesday.

“The meeting was held in the presence of Prime Minister Saad Hariri, Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil, Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, Hezbollah secretary-general’s political aide Hussein Khalil and Hariri’s chief of staff Nader Hariri,” al-Joumhouria daily reported.

“The participants failed to reach common ground on any of the formats and ideas that have been presented by various political parties so far. Meanwhile, Bassil stressed adherence to his proposed law which be believes is best for the Christians and ensures just representation,” said the daily.

“ Bassil’s so called qualification system , was also rejected by the Finance Minister and Hezbollah’s Hussein Khalil who reiterated adherence to Hezbollah’s proportional representation system,” , it added.

Al-Joumhouria pointed out that Hezbollah MP Mohammed Raad has also rejected PSP leader’s proposed law . During a political meeting in south Lebanon, Raad dubbed the format as a “waste of time as well as procrastination.”

This development comes after a meeting at the Center House on Monday evening between Prime Minister Saad Hariri and a delegation from the Progressive Socialist Party where discussions focused on the ongoing contacts with the various parties to devise a new draft electoral law.

The delegation explained the details of the draft law that has been proposed by the party in this regard.

Progressive Socialist Party MP Ghazi Aridi proposed on Saturday a new electoral law that blends on equal basis the majoritarian and proportional representation voting systems.

In a press conference Aridi revealed the details of the proposal stressing PSP’s keen interest on agreeing
on new law to help the elections be held on time.

The PSP’s hybrid format mixes equally between the majoritarian and proportional voting systems. It divides the parliament seats equally where 64 MPs would be elected according to a majoritarian ( winner takes all) system in the current 26 districts, while the other 64 according to a proportional system in newly created 11 districts.

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 takes all electoral law.

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 political analysts

According to the same analysts Hezbollah is trying to use its ally President Michel Aoun 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.