Bassil Says Aoun to Act if Electoral Law Not Reached by February 21

Free Patriotic Movement chief and Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil noted Sunday that the country will enter a “decisive week” regarding the electoral law on Monday, revealing that President Michel Aoun would take a series of measures if a new law was not reached by February 21.

“We have proposed three main ideas and they’re all fair… and we still have a lot of ideas. But time has run out and we’re before a decisive week during which all parties should put their political choices on the table, because after this week we would be facing tight deadlines,” Bassil said during a visit to the city of Jbeil.

“The issue would become the responsibility of the head of state, and after February 21, either the president and the premier would agree that the government should hold consecutive sessions to reach a law or else the president would call for three-party, four-party or five-party dialogue and would say that he does not accept vacuum, extension, the 1960 law, or plunging the country into the unknown,” the FPM chief added.

Noting that the 1960 law allows Christians to elect “only 31 out of 64 MPs through their own votes,” Bassil said other parties do not even tolerate “losing one or two seats,” adding that “no one has the desire or ability to eliminate others.”

Information Minister Melhem Riachi had announced Thursday that a new electoral law would be reached “in the next ten days.”

Aoun and Prime Minister Saad Hariri had also told ministers during a Cabinet session on Wednesday that a new electoral law would be passed “before the end of February.”

While Hariri’s al-Mustaqbal Movement has rejected that the electoral law be fully based on proportional representation, 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, AMAL Movement, the Free Patriotic Movement and the Lebanese Forces are meanwhile discussing several formats of a so-called hybrid law.

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.