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?1- The size of the electoral district. Several formulas are being proposed: Lebanon as a single electoral district, the five historical Mohafazas as electoral districts, the 26 Aqdiya as electoral districts or the division of Lebanon into 14 new districts. 
 
2- The electoral system which is to be based either on plurality as adopted since the establishment of Lebanon or on proportionality or on a mixture of both.
 
Evidently, the parties that foresee their triumph should proportional representation be established will most likely opt for this option while the less advantageous will challenge it. Therefore, mixing between the two systems- plurality and proportionality- in line with the “constructive ambiguity” tactic is expected to satisfy all parties, for each would consider themselves victorious. 
What are then the suggested proportionality-based formulas and what are the electoral laws that have come to force since independence to date?
 
Previous electoral laws 
From the independence in 1943 until the most recent elections in 2009, Lebanon witnessed 14 electoral operations, all of which were held according to a plurality system but differed in terms of the number of MPs and the size of electoral districts. The electoral law was amended eight times during this period and adjustments covered the number of MPs and the size of districts. 
 
The 1943 elections: the number of MPs totaled 55 and Lebanon’s five Mohafazas (Beirut, Mount Lebanon, South Lebanon, North Lebanon and Beqa’a) were adopted as electoral districts.
 
The 1947 elections: the same system and divisions of 1943 were adopted.
 
The 1951 elections: MPs totaled 77 and the Mohafazas were adopted as electoral districts. Mount Lebanon and North Lebanon were each divided into three districts, which brought the total number of districts to nine.
 
The 1953 elections: MPs totaled 44. Lebanon was divided into 33 districts, 22 single-member districts and 11 two-member districts. 
 
The 1957 elections: MPs totaled 66 and were distributed across 27 electoral districts. 
 
The 1960 elections: the number of MPs rose to 99 and Lebanon was divided into 26 districts (Aqdiya). This law was known as the 1960s law. 
 
The elections of 1964, 1968 and 1972: the 1960s law was adopted.
 
The 1992 elections: this was the first post-war election. The number of parliamentary seats rose to 128 distributed in 12 districts: one district in each of the Beirut, North Lebanon, South Lebanon and Nabatieh Mohafazas, three districts in the Beqa’a Mohafaza and six districts representing the Aqdiya in the Mount Lebanon Mohafaza. 
 
The 1996 elections: the number of seats in Parliament was stabilized at 128 distributed over ten districts: the Beirut Mohafaza, North Lebanon Mohafaza, South Lebanon and Nabatieh, Beqa’a and Mount Lebanon’s Aqdiah.
 
The 2000 elections: the number of MPs was also fixed at 128 and Lebanon was divided into 13 districts: three districts in Beirut, one district in the South Lebanon and Nabatieh Mohafazas, three districts in the Beqa’a Mohafza, four districts in the Mount Lebanon Mohafaza and two districts in the North Lebanon Mohafaza.
 
The 2005 elections: the same system and divisions used in 2000 were adopted. 
 
The 2009 elections: the 1960s electoral law was adopted with one adjustment that divided Beirut into three districts. 
 
The suggested proportionality-based laws 
During the deliberations to find a new parliamentary election law, there emerged an inclination to find a proportionality-based voting system instead of the plurality system. Three major draft laws surfaced in this respect: 
 
 
1- The government’s proportionality-based draft law according to female quotas and 14 districts.
 
 
Eleven months after this draft law was prepared by the Ministry of the Interior and Municipalities and after several Cabinet sessions that deliberated its clauses, the Cabinet agreed in its session held at the Presidential Palace on Tuesday, August 7, 2012 on the new parliamentary election law amidst the objection of the three Democratic Gathering ministers.
 
What’s in the draft law?
The parliamentary election draft law introduced several points that had never been heeded in previous laws since 1943. These include the following:
    Adopting proportionality as a basis for the voting system rather than plurality. Subsequently, each list (or candidate) receives a number of seats proportional to the votes they amass. 
 
    Allowing voters to cast two preferential votes to uncover the most popular candidates on the lists. 
 
    Adopting pre-printed ballots, which would limit bribes and electoral tensions to a great extent by reducing the distinctive marks on lists. 
 
    Adding a new six-member district for Lebanese expatriates. Seats would be divided equally among Muslims and Christians with no indication as to which sects the seats will be allocated, which may transform the Parliament’s sectarian structure. Most striking is that in case where one of the expatriate seats falls vacant for whatever reason (dismissal, death, resignation), no by-elections are to be held and the President of the Republic reserves the right to appoint a successor to the seat, a move denoting an infringement by the executive authority on the structure of the legislative one. 
 
    Adopting a gender quota whereby each list has to include at least one candidate of the opposite sex, meaning at least one woman. However, this quota remains restrictive in candidacy terms only and thus cannot guarantee victory for women.
 
    The electoral divisions stipulated in the draft law consolidate sectarianism, as they allow for the domination of certain sects over certain areas instead of yielding balanced districts in terms of sectarianism. Four districts (Beirut 2, Western Beqa’a and Rashaya, Tripoli, Akkar and Mennieh/Dennieh) have a Sunni majority and include 34 MPs; three districts (South Lebanon, Baalbeck and Hermel) are predominantly Shia’a and include 33 MPs; three districts (Bsharri, Batroun, Koura, Zgharta, Jbeil, Kessrouan, Matn and Baabda) are dominated by the Maronites and have 32 MPs; there are also two predominantly Christian districts (Beirut 1 and Zahle) with 16 MPs and a single, mostly Druze district (Aley-Shouf) with 13 MPs. 
    This electoral partitioning created imbalance with districts having seven seats and others having 14. 
 
    The Christians have often complained that the previous electoral laws permitted the victory of no more than 30 Christian MPs by Christian vote. This draft law however is expected to ensure the triumph of 48 MPs by Christian vote, meaning an extra 18 seats. 
 
The expected results 
If we took the results of the plurality-based 2009 elections and projected them onto proportionality based voting system and districts (which is a systematic error in principle), the electoral results might change in favor of the March 8 Forces and this camp would secure 68 seats against 60 for March 14 Forces, contrary to the 2009 outcome when the March 14 Forces won 71 to 57 as illustrated in Table 2. 
 
Hereby, we realize that both the supportive and opposing stances towards this draft law stem primarily from win and lose calculations rather than fair and equal representation. Although the draft law was approved in the Cabinet, it is unlikely to pass in Parliament where it confronts a majority. Minister of Social Affairs Wael Bou Faour was the most expressive when he said the draft law will have to navigate several troubled waters before approval in Parliament. Hariri also responded promptly and decisively saying that the draft law will not pass, proving the size of the parliamentary and political opposition against this draft law. 

 

 
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