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A " Modern " Electoral Law.

What is the major change that the suggested electoral law will introduce to the Lebanese political life? What is the difference between the political alliance - including both the pro government and pro opposition forces - that is currently in force and the group that will be born out of any of the suggested versions of the law?

The Christians insist on rejecting what came to be known as the 1960 law, which according to them fails to represent them properly in the legislative body. The concerned law is based on the majority of the voters in the entire caza. Since many Lebanese cazas include a religious mixture where Christians constitute a majority only in a limited number of them, a large number of the Christian MPs actually win thanks to Muslim votes. Christians do not want their MPs to be elected by non Christians. In the realm of the logic of the religious quota system, this objection is quite valid.

The government came up with a draft law dividing Lebanon into thirteen districts based on the proportionate system and depending on the religious restrictions. The Christians were divided vis-Ea-vis this law and some of them called for increasing the number of the districts to fifteen while insisting on rejecting the 1960 law. The Shiite group (including the Amal movement and Hezbollah) is supporting the proportionate law, as this will enhance the Christian representation of its ally, Michel Aoun. Meanwhile, the Future movement and the Socialist Progressive Party seem uneager to introduce any major amendments to the law that prevailed in the past two elections.

One could go on speaking indefinitely about these positions and counter-positions that are debated every four years: the Christian representation; the intermediate districts; the proportional representation; a modern electoral lawC*etc.

As usual, amidst the chaos of the gluttonous power distribution, the most important question is disregarded, which revolves around the meaning of the elections as a renewal of the popular appointment of the political elite to peacefully manage the social differences and to protect the citizens' internal and external interests. This is the traditional, "bourgeois" definition of the democratic process.

In reality, the present political group is quite cohesive despite the apparent shallow differences between the March 14 and the March 8 groups. Indeed, the "kleptocratic" system (i.e. the "rule of the thieves") represents the core of the Lebanese political system. The importance of any official post depends on the returns that it may yield to whomever holds that post and to their followers. There is no similarity between this return and the benefits gained by the elected MPs all over the world. This return is rather the outcome of the mentality of 'grabbing and stealing' rather than the concept of political work and public service.

Moreover, the regeneration of the parliament is confined to the succession line of the political families. All the political sect leaders always work on consolidating the power of their families or, in the best-case scenario, on supporting those who show a blind allegiance to the sect's leader or prince. Thus, regardless of the electoral laws at play, the Lebanese elections seem to consist of religious and familial bequeathal operations where new directors are appointed to steal away the national returns of the state, thus serving to preserve the sectarian system and its masters.

The Lebanese citizens are aware of these realities as they face them in their daily lives. However, most of them look away in the hope that, some day, they might win something in this hunting trip.







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Publication:Dar Al Hayat, International ed. (Beirut, Lebanon)
Date:Oct 2, 2012
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