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Lebanon: Electoral Law Preserves Domination of Traditional Political Parties | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Protesters wave Lebanese national flags during a demonstration against proposed tax increase, in front of the government palace in Beirut, Lebanon March 19, 2017. (Reuters)

Beirut – As the features of the Lebanese parliament’s political distribution become more defined with the adoption of the new proportional representation electoral law, which divides the country into 15 electoral districts, small blocs and candidates, who do not belong to the traditional political parties, seem to have less of a chance of winning in wake of the new voting system.

While experts stress that the new law, which will be endorsed by parliament on Friday, serves the interests of the Shi’ite duo (“Hezbollah” and the Amal Movement) and the Christian coalition (Free Patriotic Movement and Lebanese Forces), they say that it might lead to a drop in the representation of the Future Movement.

Head of Beirut Center for Research and Information Abdo Saad ruled out the possibility for non-traditional parties to win over dominant blocs in the upcoming parliamentary elections, which are set to take place in May 2018.

Saad noted in this regard that a proportional electoral law with a single electoral district was the only system that can achieve fair political representation.

Secretary General of the Lebanese Association for Democratic Elections (LADE) Zeina Helou told Asharq Al-Awsat that the ball was in the court of the Lebanese people and the voters, adding that the new law included many holes that would “lock the system rather than broaden the circle of participation.”

The cabinet on Wednesday approved a new electoral law based on the proportional system, which divides the country into 15 electoral districts.

The cabinet also agreed to extend parliament’s term by 11 months to allow for the preparations for the elections based on the new voting system.

Commenting on the law, Helou said that small and medium districts, as well as the mechanisms set for counting votes, would distort the principle of proportionality, promote the majoritarian regime and weaken the change dynamics.

For his part, Saad said: “They praise the new voting system as being representative, but the division of Lebanon into 15 electoral districts would give more representation to the majority blocs.”