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Press Release

June 1, 2006

 

 

After many months of work,

 

After a broad number of meetings held by the Commission at large and the sub-commissions,

 

After the revision and discussion of 121 proposals submitted to the Commission by the different bodies, parties and personalities involved in election matters,

 

After discussing the said proposals with them and with their representatives, and after the holding of eight plenary sessions,

 

 After insisting on securing unanimity that would positively contribute to spread concord among Lebanese,

 

         

The National Commission on Parliamentary Electoral Law submitted an electoral draft law made up of nine chapters including 129 articles.

 

The new concepts introduced by the draft law and distinguishing it from the prevailing and previous electoral laws are as follows (as per the order of its chapters):

 

First: To bring the rights of voters and candidates to the same level of rights with constitutional force; every law opposing these rights shall be challenged for unconstitutionality and subject to annulment by the Constitutional Council. A part of these rights is consolidated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.  As for the other part, it was introduced by the Commission since it fits the current Lebanese political situation. Two rules characterize this last part: first, the electoral law should not be amended within the year preceding the scheduled holding of next elections. Consequently, voters and candidates would be able to fully get ready for elections on an insightful basis, which guarantees a sound practice of democracy; secondly, the elections should be held under the umbrella of a government of non-candidates. These rights, to which correspond a number of obligations, were regrouped under the “Charter of voters and candidates’ rights”.

 

Second: To grant non-resident Lebanese throughout the world the right to vote, provided that they still hold the Lebanese citizenship and that their names figure on the voter rolls. The debate over people of Lebanese origin who no longer hold citizenship remains outside the scope of the Commission’s mission.           

     

Third: To lower the voting age from 21 to 18, in order to meet Lebanese youth’s demand, and to be in line with most of legislation in force in highly democratic countries.

 

Fourth: To allocate a quota for women at candidacy level; each list must include a given number of female candidates in response of women organizations’ requests and in application of 1995 Peking Agreement approved by Lebanon and recommending that women’s representation be 30% minimum by 2005.

 

 Fifth: To set up an Independent Electoral Commission that shall replace the Ministry of the Interior in organizing and supervising the electoral process starting with the electoral lists preparation until counting of votes and announcement of the results. The IEC establishment would ensure impartiality in the elections.

 

Sixth: To adopt a mixed electoral system; 77 deputies shall be elected within cadas according to the majoritarian system while 51 deputies shall be elected within muhafazats according to the proportional system.

 

The National Commission opted for this system for the following reasons:

 

1-     It satisfies those who call for a small constituency subject to majority vote and those who support the PR large constituency.

2-     It reaches the principle of Coexistence and prevents the domination of a given community and the marginalization of another.

3-     It includes a dynamic procedure that would make, with time, the national speech prevail over the sectarian one.

4-     It prevails in many highly democratic countries such as Germany and Japan, and because experts in the Constitutional law and outstanding political and sociological experts recommended in France (Vedel commission) and in England (Jenkens commission) the mixed system be adopted along with the majoritarian system prevailing in these two countries in order to combine the advantages of both majoritarian and proportional systems and reduce the disadvantages of each one of them if applied separately.

 

As for electoral districting, cadas were adopted as constituencies subject to the majoritarian system and the traditional muhafazats as constituencies subject to the proportional system. Beirut muhafazat remains unchanged but shall include three electoral units standing for cadas. Mount Lebanon muhafazat is divided into two constitucies but still includes the same cadas.  

 

Seventh: To regulate electoral expenditure and determine limits thereof, in order to ensure fair competition and equality among candidates by limiting the influence of money that has for long wronged the electoral process. The draft law grants the Independent Electoral Commission powers to monitor the electoral expenditure and punishes the defaulting entities. 

 

 

Eighth: To regulate electoral advertising in order to ensure justice and equal opportunities among candidates. The draft law grants the Independent Electoral Commission powers to monitor the electoral media campaigns and punishes the defaulting entities.  

 

Ninth: To organize the electoral process as follows:

 

  • Exercise the right to vote exclusively by means of ballot papers prepared and delivered by the Independent Commission to the polling stations.
  • Give the voter the choice of voting in his/her place of record or in his/her place of residence.
  • To make facilities for disabled voters so that they would be able to exercise their right to vote without obstacles.
  • Hold elections throughout Lebanon on one polling day.
  • Place two ballot boxes in each polling station in order to vote for cadas according to the majoritrian system and for muhafazats according to the proportional system.
  • Automate the counting process with a scanner connected to a programmed computer and a wide screen where results would be displayed. The primary counting shall take place in front of the competent registration committee instead of the polling stations. 

   

Lowering the voting age to 18, adopting a quota for women and bringing the voters and candidates’ rights to the same level of fundamental rights with constitutional force, require amendments to some articles of the Constitution. The Commission attached, for this purpose, to its draft law a proposal in this regard.

 

The President of the Commission mentioned that he would submit to his Excellency the Prime Minister the report as soon as he finishes proofreading it.


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