Electoral Subcommittee Members Admit Differences Have Remained Wide

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Rival lawmakers revealed on Monday that the gap on an electoral draft-law has remained wide despite four days of consultations with their leaderships aimed at facilitating their task of reaching common ground.

The chairman of a parliamentary subcommittee tasked with agreeing on a draft-law, MP Robert Ghanem, said following a morning session that the MPs came back with answers on a proposal to combine a winner-takes-all system with proportionality.

The lawmakers from the March 8 majority alliance, the March 14 opposition and the centrist Progressive Socialist Party had taken a four-day break to discuss the proposal with their leaderships and come back with answers.

“The stances of each party on an electoral law are already known but the objective of the subcommittee is to reach consensus in that regard,” Ghanem told reporters in parliament after the morning session ended.

“I hope that we would agree on a law that guarantees a fair representation to all,” he said, adding another session would be held in the afternoon to continue the deliberations.

But several members of the subcommittee expressed pessimism after the differences between them remained.

The opposition's al-Mustaqbal MP Ahmed Fatfat said “discussions continued through a serious and open dialogue on how we could find common ground.”

But he reiterated the rejection of proportionality and said his party was prone to the winner-takes-all system.

MP Serge Torsarkissian, who also represents al-Mustaqbal in the subcommittee, blamed earlier in the day the government for the failure to agree on a draft-law.

“The cabinet should have proposed a draft-law that has consensus to avoid the controversy that erupted over the electoral law,” Torsarkissian told Voice of Lebanon radio (93.3).

Lebanese Forces MP George Adwan, also from the March 14 opposition, hoped the subcommittee would make some achievements in the coming two days.

But he told reporters that some members of the subcommittee are trying to propose an increase in the percentage of MPs elected through a winner-takes-all system while others want the number of candidates elected through the proportional system to be higher.

Hizbullah MP Ali Fayyad indirectly slammed al-Mustaqbal, saying those fearing proportionality are aware that their political power would be exposed.

“We are keen on proportionality and the improvement of the conditions that lead to the election of Christian MPs,” he told reporters.

Fayyad also confirmed that he vetoed a proposal of having 128 districts, saying there wasn't enough time to discuss such a proposal a few months before the elections.

His ally Free Patriotic Movement MP Alain Aoun from the March 8 alliance confirmed that the gap between the subcommittee members was huge.

“It became clear through the discussions that the hybrid system will not be the solution so we should go to another stage or we should hold onto the Orthodox Gathering proposal,” he said.

MP Akram Shehayyeb, from the centrist Progressive Socialist Party, said “not a single party is ready to hand over power to the other.”

“The electoral law is part of the bigger problem,” he said adding that the cause of the differences among them was not technical but political.

“Until now the gap between the different parties is huge,” he said reiterating that agreement on administrative decentralization and the formation of a senate would set the stage for eliminating differences among the rival factions.

MP Ali Bazzi from Speaker Nabih Berri's Amal movement was the most optimistic however, saying “unlike what we've heard, there was enough responsibility and seriousness” in the meeting of the subcommittee.

“There will be more consultations .. .We are here to reach a solution and not to waste time,” he said.

Al-Mustaqbal, the PSP and March 14 independent Christian politicians have rejected the so-called Orthodox Gathering proposal that envisages a single district and calls for each sect to vote for its own MPs in a proportional system.

The proposal had garnered the support of the four major Christian parties – the Free Patriotic Movement and the Marada movement from the March 8 majority, and the opposition's Phalange party and the Lebanese Forces.

Two other proposals include a government bill that divides Lebanon into 13 districts based on a proportional representation system and a draft-law suggested by the March 14 Christian parties that seeks to divide Lebanon into 50 small-sized districts based on a winner-takes-all system.

Comments 3
Default-user-icon george (Guest) 21 January 2013, 09:24

The M14 are not going to accept, or suggest any new law. They are just wasting time in order to go back to the 1960 electoral law...Any new law that frees the christian voters is not acceptable!!!!

Default-user-icon MUSTAPHA O. GHALAYINI (Guest) 21 January 2013, 13:15

so walid beik is still the decision maker.

Thumb jabalamel 21 January 2013, 17:07

in your dreams.

and his