Reports: Govt. Meets Next Week over Electoral Law, Outcome Determines Fate of Elections

Preparations have started at the Presidential Palace in Baabda for a cabinet meeting devoted to tackle Lebanon’s electoral law for the upcoming parliamentary elections, amid reports that Speaker Nabih Berri might schedule a term extension session if a breakthrough is not reached, media reports said Friday.

Unnamed sources told al-Joumhouria that Monday’s meeting is set to discuss “the most popular electoral law forms” suggested by various parties and ruled out the possibility that an agreement would be reached during that same meeting.

The sources added that although April 15 is a decisive date for agreeing on a new voting system, but it does not drop the deadlines,“what the state failed to accomplish in more than 20 years cannot be achieved by the government in four months,” they said.

The sources expect there would be consecutive sessions to be completed after the Easter holiday.

During Thursday’s general parliamentary session dedicated to assess the government’s performance, side meetings took place where talks focused on the election law and it was agreed to intensify meetings in the coming days to create a breach in the wall of the crisis, according to al-Joumhouria.

On the other hand, An Nahar daily said all eyes are on Monday’s cabinet meeting, and that Speaker Nabih Berri has a tendency to invite the parliament for a meeting on Thursday to extend its term if a breakthrough is not recorded at the Baabda cabinet meeting.

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.

Hizbullah has repeatedly called for an electoral law fully based on the proportional representation system and a single or several large electorates.

Druze leader Walid Jumblat has rejected proportional representation, warning that it would “marginalize” his minority Druze community, whose presence is concentrated in the Aley and Chouf areas.

Amid reservations over proportional representation by other parties such as al-Mustaqbal Movement and the Lebanese Forces, the political parties are mulling a so-called hybrid electoral law that mixes proportional representation with the winner-takes-all system.

Free Patriotic Movement chief Jebran Bassil has recently proposed an electoral law that mixes proportional representation with the controversial law proposed by the Orthodox Gathering.