Rassegna Esteri

Hezbollah rejects linking its arms to electoral law

di Redazione

MP Ali Fayad who represents Hezbollah in the parliament rejected on Wednesday the link between resistance (Hezbollah) arms and the electoral law which is based on proportionality calling the link “not credible” and accusing the opposition of using the link as an excuse to reject the law that was approved by the cabinet.

“Linking proportionality to [Hezbollah’s] weapons is an insult to people’s [intellect], and prevents revealing the size of political forces”, Fayad was quoted as saying prior to entering the electoral sub-committee’s session.

Fayad’s comment comes after the Future movement which is the largestparliamentary bloc said in a statement bloc said that adoption of the electoral law which is based on proportionality would only serve the purposes of Hezbollah due to its illegal possession of arms.

“The adoption of the proportionality electoral law at the current political moment is not a step towards reform, it rather strengthens Hezbollah’s domination and control over the Lebanese state,” the bloc said, adding “once the Lebanese people all begin to respect each other’s rights and once the threat of arms is eliminated we are willing to adopt such a law” on Monday .

Hezbollah, which was credited with liberating Lebanese territories from Israel in 2000 was a very popular organization in Lebanon and throughout the Arab world. But according to analysts ever since its 2006 war with Israel, Hezbollah has become the main liability for Lebanon. In 2006 Hezbollah’s arms were used to try and bring down the government of former PM Fouad Siniora. In 2008 Hezbollah pointed its guns against the Lebanese people when it occupied more than half of Beirut and tried but failed to occupy Mt Lebanon . In 2011 it brought down the government of former PM Saad Hariri and reportedly used its arms to force progressive socialist party leader MP Walid Jumblatt and his parliamentary bloc to vote for their candidate Nagib Mikati as the new premier. Hezbollah’s current support for the Syrian regime in its brutal crackdown against the pro democracy uprising is another main concern for the Lebanese people, analysts say.

Lebanon is set to elect its parliament in June 2013, but the country’s political circles are no where near any agreement over which law to use. Here is an outline of the electoral laws under consideration

Proportional Representation (PR)
Lebanon’s Cabinet approved last August an electoral draft law which is referred to as the Charbel law (in reference to Interior minister Marwan Charbel) that called for proportional representation and divided the country into 13 districts as follows: Beirut 2, south Lebanon 2, Bekaa 3, north Lebanon 3 , Mount Lebanon 3.

The new electoral law was approved by the majority of ministers, including the Free Patriotic Movement Ministers (FPM) . However the 3 ministers that represent Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblatt’s bloc voted against it.

According to analysts Proportional representation has long been an objective of Shiite representatives, long before the formation of Hezbollah in the 1980 and even before Amal’s in the 1970. Yet, support for PR has put the Shiite political parties at odds with others and specially the Christians and the Sunnis.

Orthodox Gathering
FPM MPs Alain Aoun and Neemtallah Abi Nasr submitted another draft electoral law to the parliament even though the FPM ministers voted for the PR system . This is the so called “Greek Orthodox gathering proposal” which calls on each sect in Lebanon to vote only for itscandidate in the elections based on one electoral district for the whole country .

A Christian four-party panel on the electoral law agreed last Sunday to endorse the so-called Orthodox Gathering proposal

The panel took its decision during a meeting held in Bkirki. The four-party panel comprises representatives from the Free Patriotic Movement, the Lebanese Forces, the Phalange Party and the Marada Movement.

The Orthodox law was also criticized by President Michel Suleiman, Premier Najib Mikati, National Struggle Front leader Walid Jumblat and several other Christian MPs specially those belonging to the Greek Orthodox sect

Small districts

March 14 Christian MPs Georges Adwan, Boutros Harb and Sami Gemayel submitted a draft electoral law based on 50 districts and winner take all majority to the Parliament’s General Secretariat last October.

Most March 14 politicians prefer this law but it is opposed by all the Hezbollah led March 8 alliance

1960 electoral law

This is the current law which is based on the Qada (county) as the electoral district.

Jumblatt and his PSP MPs still favor this 1960 majoritarian (or “winner take all”) system, but almost all the other lebanese politicians in March 14 and March 8 reject this law and call it unfair.

Boutros commission

In 2006, the government-appointed National Commission for a New Electoral Law, known as the Boutros Commission, authored a draft law that proposed major changes to the 1960 electoral system, but the recommendations have since been shelved.

The Boutros Commission called for a hybrid electoral law, under which 77 of Parliament’s 128 members would be elected by winner-take-all, and the remaining 51 members would be elected by proportional representation.

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