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Lebanese Christian leaders debate changes to electoral system

Current district boundaries in Lebanon

Via The Daily Star, (which has really improved its website recently), comes more news about proposed electoral system reform in Lebanon.

One participant, who did not wish to be identified because of a secrecy agreement struck at the meeting, told The Daily Star that some parties were seeking to block proportional representation.

“I hope this isn’t true, but my impression is that many wouldn’t want to see proportional representation adopted and may use various means and tricks to avoid it,” the participant said. “Major political groups wouldn’t want to see it jeopardizing results in their constituencies. You will not hear anyone saying they are against proportional representation, because it is an international trend. But at the same time they are trying to build on a system of each community electing its members of Parliament.”

The bluntness in these talks is strangely refreshing to me.  Given the nature of politics in Lebanon, and the potential ramifications of changing their infamous model, I guess this make sense.

Lebanon debating new electoral system

Lebanon’s been debating a new electoral system for some time now, but it seems these recent debates are actually a little more serious.  The talk is mostly about moving to some sort of PR system, which would be far more fair than what they have now.

Of course there is a reason that a fairer system hasn’t been implemented, and that’s because it would severely reduce the influence of a number of ethnic confessions.  It’s no shock, for example, that Druze leader Walid Jumblatt wants the current rules that have allowed him to be the “last man in” every coalition for his entire career.

Proportional representation was first proposed by my father the late Kamal Jumblatt when he was the head of the national front with the purpose of eliminating sectarianism . But since the ‘leftists’ are now politically weak… it is better to postpone the discussion about an electoral law [based on proportional representation], and maintain the status quo in order to preserve diversity,” National News Agency quoted him as saying.

It’s always great when you can just openly admit you don’t want a system because it will hurt you personally.

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