EU Envoys Urge ‘Consensual’ Electoral Law, Say ‘Technical’ Delay Must be Brief

The Ambassadors of the European Union and EU Member States held talks Wednesday with Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq to discuss “the advancement of preparations for the forthcoming elections,” an EU Delegation statement said.

The EU Ambassadors stressed that after the election of a president and the formation of a national unity government, “the timely, transparent and peaceful holding of parliamentary elections will be another step towards consolidating the normal functioning of democratic institutions in Lebanon,” the statement said.

The envoys highlighted that the successful holding of municipal elections in May 2016 showed “not only the importance that the Lebanese attach to the right to elect and to be elected, but also served as a reminder that Lebanon is in a position of holding peaceful and democratic elections as legally foreseen,” the statement added.

The EU and its member states encourage all Lebanese parties to “engage constructively on the issues of electoral reform and the holding of timely elections,” the EU communique said, noting that “it is of key importance to agree on reforming the existing electoral law in a consensual and inclusive way.”

“While the agreement on a new electoral law could lead to a technical postponement of the elections, it is important that such a possible postponement causes only the shortest delay possible,” the EU Ambassadors urged.

The statement pointed out that the EU remains “the largest and most essential donor in Lebanon in the field of electoral reform, providing support to the government to implement reforms, and to civil society to advocate and monitor for a better electoral framework.”

“A new or amended electoral law would provide a good opportunity to introduce reforms of the electoral process such as pre-printed ballot papers and a quota for women as per the recommendations of the 2009 EU Election Observation Mission,” the statement added.

The EU also highlighted its “willingness to continue supporting Lebanon in this regard including by deploying an Election Observation Mission, as stated by the EU High Representative Federica Mogherini during her visit to Lebanon in January 2017.”