Mashnouq: President, PM Say New Electoral Law before End of February

President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister Saad Hariri told ministers during Wednesday’s Cabinet session that “the new electoral law will be finalized before the end of February,” Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq said.

“There is no choice but to hold the parliamentary elections and I don’t have any doubt that they might not be held, seeing as one cannot talk about democracy in Lebanon except through holding elections,” Mashnouq added, during a meeting at the ministry with the ambassadors of the European Union and EU Member States.

“A course of constitutional regularity started in the country with the election of a new president and the formation of a new government, and it cannot become complete except after the election of a new parliament, which would enable constitutional institutions to address the problems and challenges facing Lebanon,” the minister went on to say.

As for security, Mashnouq reassured that “the situation is under control and there are no security concerns regarding the elections.”

“Security agencies proved their competency during the latest municipal and mayoral polls,” he added.

While al-Mustaqbal Movement has rejected that the electoral law be fully based on the proportional representation system, arguing that Hizbullah’s arms would prevent serious competition in the party’s strongholds, Druze leader MP Walid Jumblat has totally rejected proportional representation, even within a hybrid law, warning that it would “marginalize” the minority Druze community.

Hizbullah, Mustaqbal, the Free Patriotic Movement, AMAL Movement and the Lebanese Forces are meanwhile discussing several formats of a so-called hybrid electoral law that mixes proportional representation with the winner-takes-all system.

The country has not organized parliamentary elections since 2009 and the legislature has instead twice extended its own mandate.

The last polls were held under an amended version of the 1960 electoral law and the next vote is scheduled for May.