Arslan Advocates Proportionality Instead of 'Law of Strife' to Build Strong State

Lebanese Democratic Party leader Talal Arslan urged Lebanese officials on Friday to adopt proportional representation, saying the 1960 electoral law based on a winner-takes-all system leads to strife.

“The 1960 law is a law of strife. It keeps the Lebanese people under hegemony,” Arslan said at a press conference he held at his residence in Khalde.

He urged all religious and civilian authorities to review their choice in the law and discuss the adoption of proportionality, saying the 1960 law, which adopts the qada as an electoral district and is based on a winner-takes-all-system, leads to “security, political, economic and social impasse.”

The law was used in the 2009 elections, and will likely remain until the 2013 polls are held in June over the failure of the parliament to adopt a new draft-law.

The government approved in August a bill that divides Lebanon into 13 electoral districts based on proportional representation but it was rejected by March 14 opposition blocs and by the centrist bloc of National Struggle Front leader MP Walid Jumblat.

Parliament also failed to discuss the bill and other electoral draft-laws after Lebanon plunged in a political crisis following the assassination of Internal Security Forces Intelligence Bureau chief Wissam al-Hasan.

March 14 boycotted all parliamentary activity and refused to participate in the national dialogue called for by President Michel Suleiman after it blamed the government for the killing.

Describing proportionality as “advanced” and a “catalyst for political life,” Arslan called for a parliamentary session to discuss the adoption of a modern electoral draft-law that would lead to a strong state.

“It is about time to feel responsible towards the nation,” he said. “Those who reject proportionality have a single aim to prevent all Lebanese from participating in political life.”

Lamenting that the dispute on an electoral law has become a “charade,” the Druze leader said only proportionality guarantees the best representation which in turn leads to political stability.

He also said that only a democracy based on public freedoms and civil rights guarantees the nation's salvation.

Proportionality brings about civil peace which is the bridge to the state of law that preserves the rights of the people and attracts investors, Arslan added.

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