New political crisis threatens Lebanon with disagreements over election law

Published April 19th, 2017 - 10:00 GMT
Last week President Michel Aoun suspended parliament due to the electoral law crisis. (AFP/File)
Last week President Michel Aoun suspended parliament due to the electoral law crisis. (AFP/File)

Lebanon’s electoral law crisis intensifies as various proposals submitted by Lebanese politicians have failed to please the different factions and groups.

In light of the current deadlock, the country has two difficult options. The first is to extend the parliament’s term during a session scheduled on May 15, and the second is parliamentary vacuum, which threatens the work of the country’s constitutional institutions.

Foreign Minister and Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) Leader Gebran Bassil’s proposed electoral law was strongly rejected by the FPM’s ally, Hezbollah, and lacked constitutional legitimacy, according to an expert in the Lebanese Constitution.

Bassil announced his electoral law proposal Monday at the FPM headquarters. Under his proposal, some districts would use a majoritarian voting system, while others would use a proportional system. 

Meanwhile, sources in the Presidential Palace told Asharq al-Awsat newspaper that it was important not to anticipate conclusions in this matter, noting that while politicians publicly attacked any proposed electoral law, backstage talks were ongoing and would hopefully lead to a positive outcome. 

The sources added that President Michel Aoun has stressed the inevitability to reach an agreement over a new electoral law within the remaining deadline.

Constitutional Expert and Former MP Saleh Honein said that Bassil’s proposed law is unconstitutional, as the Constitution stresses the unity of the Lebanese territories, people, and institutions.

Honein told Asharq al-Awsat: “Confessional elections violate the content and the spirit of the Constitution.”

He noted that the remaining time until the next parliamentary session on May 15 was enough to reach an agreement between the different parties over a constitutional electoral law.

For his part, Progressive Socialist Party (PSP) Secretary General Zafer Nasser said that his party rejected the law proposed by Bassil.

In remarks to Asharq al-Awsat, Nasser stressed that the proposed formula was against the Constitution and a blow to partnership and national reconciliation.

“If real reforms are needed, then such laws do not build a country,” he stated.

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