Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Map of Lebanon's electoral law

Courtesy of Beirut Spring

Lebanon's Syrian-imposed electoral law has been abolished.

The country will revert to its predecessor, the 1960 electoral law, with a few modifications in Beirut at Hariri's behest.

Although I remain completely antagonistic towards Lebanon's sectarian-flawed system, the abolishment of the Syrian-imposed law is a step closer to appropriate representation of the population.

The Syrian-imposed law was pretty much based on the current map above, except it grouped the small electoral districts into large electoral regions. For example, North Lebanon was divided into three electoral regions, one of which encompassed the electoral districts of Tripoli, Koura and a third. Of course, the greater populous of Tripoli outnumbered the smaller rural districts. So as it turned out, the voters of Tripoli essentially decided who would be representing the Kourans, for example, as opposed to Koura electing its own representative.

On a sectarian scale, this caused problems. Again with the above example, Tripoli is a largely Sunni city, and Koura a predominant Christian (Orthodox) region. So in essence, Sunnis in Tripoli were deciding who would represent the Orthodox community in Koura.

Originally, the Syrians implemented this law to favour then-allies Rafik al-Hariri and Druze warlord Walid Jumblatt. Following Hariri's assassination in 2005, his son Saad Hariri and Jumblatt became sworn enemies of Syria, but retained the electoral system Damascus drafted for them.

Much of the division and tension between the anti-Syrian camp and the Opposition centres on political representation. Christian political power was eaten away under Syrian rule, and the Shi'ites have never had much domestic political power as far as the system is concerned. Thus, it isn't a coincidence that the major Christian and Shia parties (Michel Aoun's FPM and Hezbollah) formed an alliance to combat the over-represented Sunni and Druze leadership.

Since then, it has been a battle for numbers with both sides claiming to represent the majority of Lebanese public opinion. Now with the electoral battle lines drawn back closer to a level playing field, we will find out in 2009 who really is the majority ... hopefully without the use of weapons.


Jad S said...

Do you happen to know if the the legal election is to be lowered in the new law?

Antoun said...

Hi Jad,

No decision has been made yet. The parliament meets today to pass through the 1960 election law, but I doubt this will include lowering the voting age unfortunately.

There is still a great push to have the voting age lowered before next year's elections.

Check out today's editorial in The Daily Star:

Jad S said...

Now that the law has been passed, the prospects of giving youth aged between 18 and 21 electoral rights are almost nil, am I right Antoun?