Raad Says ‘Unacceptable’ to Bin Proportional Representation over Some Parties’ Concerns

Hizbullah’s top lawmaker Mohammed Raad announced Sunday that it is “irrational and unacceptable” to bin proposals for passing an electoral law fully based on proportional representation in order to appease some political parties and leaders.

“The new government has a major responsibility, which is devising a new electoral law, because we will not accept the 1960 law and others are also saying they won’t accept it. Let this materialize through debating a new electoral law,” Raad, the head of the Loyalty to Resistance bloc, said.

“The mandatory path for achieving reform and change in our country is the adoption of a law that reflects the correct, fair and comprehensive representation of the Lebanese people in parliament, and such a law can only be fully based on proportional representation in a single or several expanded electoral districts,” Raad added.

Admitting that “some parties have concerns over endorsing a law fully based on proportional representation,” he said the idea should be “discussed,” not “binned.”

“Let us discuss these concerns in order to reach a conclusion that proportional representation is a valid system,” the lawmaker went on to say.

“It would be irrational and unacceptable to bin a law fully based on proportional representation to appease the concerns of some Lebanese, leaders or groups,” he emphasized.

Raad added: “We are concerned with debating others over a law fully based on proportional representation in a single or several expanded electoral districts, the same as we debated the laws that they have proposed.”

“We fear possible settlements and deals that would lead to passing the 1960 law after adding a slight hint of proportional representation to it, in a manner that would mislead the Lebanese public opinion and delude people into thinking that an achievement has been made at the level of the electoral law,” Raad added.

“We realize that the Lebanese mosaic and the religious and sectarian components of Lebanon will hinder our endeavor to reach a correct and fair law that achieves satisfactory representation for all Lebanese,” the MP said.

MP Ghazi Aridi of MP Walid Jumblat’s Progressive Socialist Party had stressed Wednesday that the PSP “cannot be blackmailed with any electoral law.”

“When some parties propose the proportional representation system for sectarian motives, this has nothing to do with proportional representation, because it would not lead to political reform or correct representation in the Lebanese political system,” Aridi said.

“We cannot accept that the electoral law be used to intimidate any main political component in the country or to threaten to push it away from the center of political decision-making,” the lawmaker added.

A Free Patriotic Movement delegation had announced after talks with Jumblat earlier this month that the PSP leader “did not flatly reject a proportional representation system that takes concerns into consideration and does not eliminate any sectarian component.”

Hizbullah has repeatedly called for an electoral law fully based on proportional representation but other political parties, especially al-Mustaqbal Movement, have rejected the proposal and argued that the party’s controversial arsenal of arms would prevent serious competition in regions where the Iran-backed party has clout.

Mustaqbal, the Lebanese Forces and the PSP have meanwhile proposed a hybrid electoral law that mixes the proportional representation and the winner-takes-all systems. Speaker Nabih Berri has also proposed a hybrid law.

The country has not voted for a parliament since 2009, with the legislature instead twice extending its own mandate.

The 2009 polls were held under an amended version of the 1960 electoral law and the next elections are scheduled for May 2017.