Berri Withdraws Proposal Mixing Orthodox and 1960 Laws after Mustaqbal's Rejection

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Speaker Nabih Berri withdrew Thursday evening a proposal that mixes the 1960 electoral law and the controversial Orthodox Gathering draft law after al-Mustaqbal Movement rejected it.

Under Berri's hybrid vote plan, 64 MPs would be be elected according to the winner-takes-all system and the remaining half under the proportional representation system.

The speaker then adjourned the meeting of the parliamentary electoral subcommittee to 1:00 p.m., Friday, pending the response of the Free Patriotic Movement and Hizbullah regarding the hybrid law proposed by Mustaqbal and the Lebanese Forces, after LF bloc MP George Adwan provided them with answers to 11 questions they had asked concerning the proposal.

"The FPM and Hizbullah asked to be given until Friday to submit their remarks on Adwan's answers," LBCI television reported.

The TV network said a plenary parliamentary session will be held at noon Saturday.

Mustaqbal sources told MTV that “Berri's proposal turns half of the Lebanese into citizens and the other half into followers of their sects."

Meanwhile, the movement's sources told NBN television: "We will not accept 'a half or quarter Orthodox law'," in reference to Berri's plan.

NBN said "Berri was not holding onto his proposal and he suggested it in a bid to find a final chance for common ground."

The TV network revealed that MPs have been informed that "there is another plenary session on Saturday," adding that "indications suggest that parliament's term will be extended with the aim of preventing the revival of the 1960 law."

The Phalange Party is yet to declare an official stance, although LBCI television reported that the party was inclined to endorse Berri's proposal before it was dropped.

Earlier on Thursday, media reports said Berri made the proposal during a meeting of the parliamentary electoral subcommittee.

Change and Reform bloc MP Alain Aoun said that the rival MPs would settle their stances on the speaker's plan during the evening session.

In addition to hearing Berri's proposal, the March 14 alliance provided responses to questions raised by the Phalange party and some of the March 8 coalition's representatives.

Al-Mustaqbal MP Ahmed Fatfat, whose bloc struck a deal with the rest of the March 14 factions – except for the Phalange – on a hybrid vote law, had told al-Joumhouria newspaper that the dispute lied in the division of Beirut and Mount Lebanon.

A session chaired by Berri on Wednesday night “discussed the details of the administrative divisions that we had proposed,” Fatfat said. “March 14 will respond to the questions asked.”

Berri decided to chair the meetings of the subcommittee after he adjourned a parliamentary session that was set to discuss the so-called Orthodox Gathering proposal, which considers Lebanon a single district and stipulates that each sect elects its own MPs under on a proportional representation system.

But the plan faced a huge obstacle after al-Mustaqbal and the Lebanese Forces struck the deal on the hybrid proposal which was also backed by MP Walid Jumblat's National Struggle Front and March 14's independent Christian MPs.

The Phalange, a major component of the March 14 alliance, rejected the proposal which lies in having 54 MPs elected under the winner-takes-all system and 46 percent via the proportional representation system.

In the same proposal, the country would be divided into six governorates under proportionality and 27 districts under the winner-takes-all system.

Phalange sources told al-Joumhouria that the party's objection to the plan came over its division of Mount Lebanon to two districts. The first includes Shouf and Aley and the second includes the qadas of Baabda, North Metn, Jbeil and Keserouan.

“This amounts to the division of Christians in Mount Lebanon and giving Jumblat what satisfies him in addition to granting Hizbullah more Shiite weight,” the sources said.

They wondered what standard al-Mustaqbal and LF adopted when making such divisions and keeping other governorates intact.

The Free Patriotic Movement from the March 8 alliance had similar reservations on the division of districts in Mount Lebanon.

An Nahar daily reported that Berri informed the members of the subcommittee that he will chair several sessions until Friday afternoon and call for a general assembly on Saturday morning to vote on the new law.

March 8 sources told the newspaper that the 1960 law could be used in this year's elections too after their proposal for the adoption of the Orthodox proposal was dropped.

The alliance will decide on its final stance during a meeting it will hold on Thursday night, the sources said.

Comments 9
Missing -karim_m1 16 May 2013, 10:00

"The Phalange, a major component of the March 14 alliance..."

With its 5 MPs.

Missing -karim_m1 16 May 2013, 10:01

"This amounts to the division of Christians in Mount Lebanon and giving Jumblat what satisfies him".

I agree with the Phalange here.

Thumb beiruti 16 May 2013, 15:43

M14 seems set up to be sucker again by Berri. The Hybrid Election law is one that was developed within M14 of which Berri is not a member. The coalition partners that make up M14 plus the National Struggle Front, less the Kataeb constitute a majority needed to adopt the Hybrid Election Law. So why does Berri get to not only nose in on the deliberations, but to chair the meeting and to bring his own proposal to the table? Why is that?? Why does the M14 continue to fail to understand that it has a majority and should use it rather than to cede, time and time again to its political adversaries who are in the Minority?

Thumb beiruti 16 May 2013, 15:46

At first it seemed part of the political culture of the country to try to work by consensus, but after the National Struggle Front was formed and moved its Deputies from M14 to M8, M8 showed no special affinity for reaching consensus with anyone other than the Mullahs in Tehran. So this is not a systemic phenomina of ceding power to those who do not have it, it seems to be characteristic only of the M14 coalition.
To make mistakes is only human, but to make the same mistake over and over again is stupid.

Thumb beiruti 16 May 2013, 19:13

I see the latest news that Future strongly rejected the Berri plan and that it has been withdrawn. Maybe there is hope yet for the M14 to hold their ground and to work the majority will.

Thumb benzona 16 May 2013, 21:05

I can't wait for the day the head of parliament won't be Shia, the Prime Minister Moslem, the President Christian.

I want competent people leading the nation, not sects.

Default-user-icon Clint (Guest) 16 May 2013, 22:10

Majority or not !! we all know that Hizbollah has the power.
no point in ......

Missing youssefhaddad 16 May 2013, 22:44

Before the Taef accord Christians had 54 deputies to 45 Muslims and the Lebanese Maronite president had extended executive powers. What did this powerful control of the parliament and the executive branch do to protect the Christians from 1943 to 1989?
The Christian members of parliament, through these years, especially most of those elected in regions of Christian voters exclusively, did not necessarily make choices beneficial for the Christians or for Lebanon.
Lebanon is currently ungovernable no matter who get elected. The cure is in adopting a secular system where the Lebanese identity is clearly defined and is non aligned to any of the regional powers. Miracles do happen, keep praying...

Missing peace 16 May 2013, 23:59

till the religious people will be powerful and manipulate their sheep lebanon will stay like that. the leaders lay on the religious people to enforce their power, so they will never do anything that can weaken their power unless the people revolt but that is not soon to arrive....