Electoral Law !! Solution or Presidential Magic expected?

Members of the new Lebanese government pose for a picture at the presidential palace in Baabda, Lebanon (Photo by Reuters)

Lebanon’s parliament, which has elected Michel Aoun as president, ending a political stand-off that has left the position empty for more than two years is now facing a new dilemma. Can the new appointed Lebanese President end the electoral law stalemate?

Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri refused to go from the 60’s voting law to a sectarian one. This was one of today’s headline news.  According to multiple newspapers, Speaker Nabih Berri said to lawmakers during Wednesday’s weekly meeting that “It is unacceptable to move from a bad prison to a worse one, that is from the 1960 law to a sectarian electoral law.” Adding that playing with sectarianism does not mean sects are a game and the homeland is a playground.”
Mr. Berri voiced his opinion as a response to what MP Ibrahim Kanaan said to the media following the weekly meeting of the Change and Reform’s bloc on Tuesday, during which Kanaan assured that the law of Qualification seems to have a chance of getting accepted, and that a new electoral law will be adopted soon.

On the other hand, the Future bloc reiterated also on Wednesday the importance of agreeing on a new voting law that avoids the country a vacuum in the parliament.
Parliamentary elections were first scheduled to take place between May 21 and June 21, however, a political deadlock is expected to delay polls beyond June.

In light of this struggle over the new voting law, a series of meetings were held Thursday between the Lebanese leaders. News reported that Prime Minister Saad Hariri and Lebanese Forces deputy MP George Adwan held a meeting at the grand Serail in the presence of PM advisor Nader Hariri, where they discussed the issue of the electoral law and stressed the need to prevent a vacuum.

Later on, MP Adwan met with Ministers Michel Pharaon and Tarek al-Kati, as well as with a delegation from the Islamic Group. Afterwards, he headed to meet with Minister Gebran Bassil, at the Foreign Ministry noting that work towards a new voting law is ongoing by leaps and bounds and that the ambiance of the meeting seemed more positive than the actual circulating news.

Furthermore, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Gebran Bassil, received on Thursday at the ministry MP Hadi Hobeish, with whom he discussed the election law as stated by Hobeish in the wake of the meeting. Minister Bassil also met with Minister of State for Planning, Michel Pharaon, who announced after the meeting that “discussions dealt with an array of topics mostly the electoral law.”

On the other hand, PSP leader Walid Jumblat sent a tweet Thursday stating that he will remain silent before media until an agreement over a consensual election poll is reached asking all comrades to do so as well.

Amid all this turmoil concerning the new electoral law, and the timing that seems to be getting shorter with every passing day without a solution on the horizon, Lebanese people are now looking to their safety net in one place, and one place only, Baabda Palace!!

Can the Lebanese President, Michel Aoun, intervene yet again in time to save what little dignity is left to those Lebanese leaders?

And while they are still struggling to agree on a new electoral law in time for the parliamentary session that is scheduled for May 15, does the president have another secret new weapon, an unknown formula like the one he used in April 12, when he suspended the work of the parliament for a month under the Article 59?

Will he be obligated to use magic, yet again, to save Lebanon from any unknown disaster?
Only time will tell.

by Hala Hayek