Beirut – The Lebanese Cabinet on Wednesday approved a new electoral law based on the proportional system, which divides the country into 15 electoral districts.
Speaker Nabih Berri said Parliament would convene on Friday, three days before the end of its constitutional term, to vote on the law.
As expected, Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri announced that the cabinet has agreed to extend Parliament’s term by 11 months to allow for the preparations for the elections based on the new voting system.
This will be the third extension of the Lebanese parliament since the last elections in 2009.
Both President Michel Aoun and Hariri have described Cabinet’s endorsement of the new law as a “historic achievement”.
In comments during Cabinet’s session on Wednesday, the Lebanese president said: “The vote law is a tremendous achievement. The [electoral law] in Lebanon has been majoritarian since before the independence.”
However, the president described the new voting system as “a step forward”, even though it might not achieve fully balanced representation, as he said.
“This new law is for all those who have been marginalized by the previous electoral systems,” he added.
Hariri, for his part, praised Lebanese politicians for sitting together and endorsing a new electoral law.
He noted that only three ministers have expressed reservations over the distribution of electoral districts, including Minister for the Displaced Talal Arslan, Public Works and Transportation Minister Youssef Fenianos and State Minister Ali Qanso.
“Unfortunately, we could not adopt the women’s parliamentary quota and we have encouraged to lower the voting age to 18 but we could not reach an agreement over this issue,” the prime minister noted.
“As for emigrants, they will be able to vote in the 2022 parliamentary elections and will be represented” in Parliament, he added.
Hariri stressed that his government was working on easing sectarianism in the Lebanese political life.
The prime minister said the 11-month extension was only technical and would allow the authorities to prepare for the elections, raise awareness on the new process, issue magnetic voting cards and printed ballots, and to prepare for electronic vote tabulation.
Lebanese Forces (LF) Leader Samir Geagea urged the Lebanese to prepare for the upcoming parliamentary elections, noting: “Every vote counts and will influence the electoral process.”
He also called on the Lebanese citizens to unify stances in order to achieve the change that they were longing for.
Former Prime Minister Najib Mikati, for his part, said that the new law promoted political diversity and would bring an added value to the Lebanese political work.