Berri Shrugs off Time Factor, Hopeful of Hybrid Vote Law Deal

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Speaker Nabih Berri is hopeful that rival parliamentary blocs would find an alternative to the 1960 electoral law and the so-called Orthodox Gathering proposal by agreeing on a hybrid draft-law.

“Don't be afraid of the time factor. We still have three and a half months until the elections are held on June 9 and I believe there is enough time to agree on a new law if all the parties are willing to reach consensus,” officials, who visited Berri, quoted him as saying.

The officials, who were not identified, told pan-Arab daily al-Hayat published Sunday that Berri was relieved after President Michel Suleiman stressed in the last cabinet session that the 1960 law is “dead.”

The speaker warned however that the March 8 majority alliance will not tolerate the implementation of the law that was used in the 2009 elections with some amendments.

The law adopts the qada as an electoral district and is based on the winner-takes-all system.

Any attempt to push the alliance towards the implementation of the 1960 law would lead to its insistence to adopt the Orthodox Gathering draft-law, Berri warned.

The Orthodox proposal was approved by the joint parliamentary committees despite the rejection of the opposition al-Mustaqbal bloc, the centrist National Struggle Front and the March 14 opposition's Christian independent MPs.

“This proposal wasn't my option either and I was betting that the joint committees would reach agreement on a hybrid draft-law,” Berri reportedly said.

The hybrid plan combines the winner-takes-all and proportional representation systems unlike the Orthodox proposal which calls for each sect to vote for its own MPs under proportionality.

Berri revealed that Lebanese Forces MP George Adwan, who voted in favor of the Orthodox proposal at the joint committees meeting, proposed to him a new plan that calls for electing 68 MPs based on the winner-takes-all system and the remaining 60 based on the proportional representation system.

The speaker said he advised Adwan to consult with National Struggle Front leader MP Walid Jumblat and the main factions of the opposition March 14 alliance to reach an agreement.

Following consensus between them, his Amal movement and Hizbullah would discuss it to agree on a formula that could be used in the elections, Berri said.

Al-Mustaqbal and Jumblat's Progressive Socialist Party are already working on a hybrid vote law that calls for 70 lawmakers to be elected in a winner-takes-all system and 58 MPs through proportional representation.

It is based on a division of 26 districts for the first system and 9 governorates for the second.

The speaker also advised Adwan to consult Free Patriotic Movement chief Michel Aoun of the majority March 8 alliance, who is a staunch supporter of the Orthodox proposal, the officials who met Berri told al-Hayat.

Comments 1
Thumb chrisrushlau 10 March 2013, 19:13

Is it illegal in Lebanon to say that Berri is a Shia? Is it illegal to ask how Amal can have more seats in Parliament than Hezbullah?