ASIA/LEBANON - Approval of the new electoral law. The National Director of the PMS: "compromise for stability"

Saturday, 17 June 2017 geopolitics   oriental churches   middle east   elections  

The Daily Star

Beirut (Agenzia Fides) - The approval of the new electoral law by the Lebanese Parliament confirms and reasserts "the great compromise among different forces, which represents the essential key to reading this phase of Lebanese history. Consensus among the major political forces allows to continue, maintaining a political stability that, as all say in words, should be used to fighting corruption and promote the country's economy which is in severe crisis". This is how Father Rouphael Zgheib, National Director of the Lebanese Missionary Pontifical Society, outlines the scenario to Agenzia Fides in which the parliamentary approval of the new Lebanese electoral law came into being on Friday, June 16. The Maronite priest adds that "at first glance, the adopted system seems rather complicated, and the technical modalities of its application will have to be well explained to citizens who only want to vote, knowing clearly what will be the concrete effects of their vote" .
The new law establishes a pure proportional system in Lebanon instead of the majority, in force since 1960. Lebanon has been divided into 15 electoral districts, relatively homogeneous within them from a confessional point of view. It is therefore foreseeable that each single college will elect candidates belonging to the same religious community.
The new electoral system does not undermine the rule - included in the Taif Agreements, with which in 1989 the end of the civil war was sanctioned - which stipulates that half of the 128 parliamentarians are Christians, and the other half is formed by Muslim parliamentarians.
The introduction of the new electoral law is read by many observers as a political victory of the Hezbollah Shiite Party. In reality, even this time, the agreement that allowed the parliamentary approval of the new electoral system saw the convergence of the votes of the Shiites of Hezbollah's and Amal's political formation with the votes of the Sunnis of the Future Party (Premier Saad Hariri's political formation) with those of the two largest Maronite Christian parties, the Free Patriotic Current - founded by Lebanese President Michel Aoun - and Samir Geagea's Lebanese Forces. The political compromise between these four political formations is at the moment the basis of Lebanon's political "stability". The four major parties expect to increase the number of their deputies in the next parliament at the expense of the smaller parties and independent candidates.
The approval of the electoral law will allow the Lebanese to return to the polls to elect new deputies. The current parliamentary Assembly is operating under a four-year extension, the last time in November 2014. Elections have already been set for May 2018. (GV) (Agenzia Fides 17/6/2017)