Electoral Subcommittee Fails to Reach Agreement on Vote Law

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The parliamentary electoral subcommittee failed on Monday to reach an agreement over a new electoral law as Speaker Nabih Berri did not set a date for a new session, reported LBCI television.

It said that the speaker will hold contacts with various officials over the next two days before setting the date for a new meeting.

He also has not set the date for a parliament session to tackle the electoral draft laws.

LBCI said that the gatherers failed after a four-hour meeting to resolve any of the differences over the electoral law, quoting them as saying that they are “nearing a dead-end.”

Failure to reach consensus over an electoral law has raised fears of a political vacuum in Lebanon. In absence of consensus, the other two alternatives are holding the polls according to the 1960 law or extending the term of the current parliament.

OTV meanwhile reported that the subcommittee meetings will remain open until Berri sets the date for new sessions.

“I personally reject the extension even for a single day but I am ready to go ahead with it if it was based on a specific plan,” Berri told several local dailies published Monday.

“Logically, today's session will be the last although I can call for more sessions” to agree on a new electoral draft law, he said.

But the Interior Ministry would resume on Monday receiving applications for candidacies. The date had been suspended until May 19 to allow the rival MPs more time to agree on an alternative to the 1960 law that was used in the 2009 elections.

“It would be inappropriate for us (the subcommittee) to continue discussions at a time when people will begin submitting their nominations based on the 1960 law,” Berri said.

He hoped however that the political parties represented in the subcommittee would postpone the submission of their applications to the Interior Ministry until after the end of Monday's meeting.

Al-Mustaqbal MP Ahmed Fatfat, who is a subcommittee member, confirmed the postponement.

National Struggle Front MP Akram Shehayeb also told reporters ahead of the session in Ain el-Tineh that his bloc agrees to both the extension of the parliament's term or the adoption of the 1960 law on condition there is no vacuum.

But Tashnag party's representative, MP Hagop Pakradounian, rejected the 1960 law and favored an extension.

Lebanese Forces MP George Adwan said however that his party rejects both the 1960 law and the extension.

He called for the adoption of a new electoral law during a parliamentary session.

“If today's subcommittee session ends in failure, then I will tell the Lebanese that I tried my best to reach consensus” on a vote law, Berri told the newspapers.

“I will admit failure and leave each side to assume its own responsibility,” he said.

“But no matter what happens we will not end up in vacuum,” the speaker added.

Last week, al-Mustaqbal bloc, the Lebanese Forces, MP Walid Jumblat’s National Struggle Front and March 14 alliance's independent lawmakers proposed a hybrid draft-law, which calls for 46 percent of MPs to be elected based on proportional representation and 54 percent under the winner-takes-all system.

Under the same proposal, Lebanon would be divided into 26 districts and six governorates.

But the members of the subcommittee that are part of the Hizbullah-led March 8 alliance expressed reservations on it along with March 14's Phalange Party.

Comments 1
Thumb beiruti 20 May 2013, 16:30

The dust has yet to settle in Syria where Hezbollah is fully engaged on behalf of the Khomenie Regime to carve out a sphere of influence in the western provinces of Syria. With Syria unsettled, will Lebanon go to election where not just Parliament, but the Council of Ministers, the PM and the President next year are all at stake??
May 7, 2008 is still before the eyes of those engaged in the Subcommittee meeting. They fear that if they act contrary to Hezbollah's wish, that Hezbollah will again take the streets with its guns. This time, without M14 in control of the government, the situtation could go from bad to worse. It is a gamble whether or not Hezbollah will engage in a new front in Beirut while it is losing men at Quaysar. It is a gamble whether or not all of the Lebanese Shiite would support Hezbollah engaging in a fight against fellow Lebanese.
I think it is time for Lebanon to call Hezbollah's bluff.