By Dana Khraiche
BEIRUT: A recent survey shows that 59 percent of Lebanese favor proportional representation over the current winner-takes-all system for the upcoming 2013 parliamentary elections, ARA Marketing Research & Consultancy revealed Thursday.
The survey comes 10 days after Interior Minister Marwan Charbel unveiled a draft law electoral law based on the system of proportional representation intended for the next parliamentary elections. This type of electoral law has been supported by President Michel Sleiman and other lawmakers.
The survey, which surveyed 500 participants, said 37 percent prefer the current electoral system. The numbers represent an increase in those favoring the system of proportional representation compared to 2005, when the same firm found that 51 percent favored proportional representation while 32 said the winner-takes-all was preferable.
The new survey also revealed that the percentage of Sunni Muslims in favor of proportional representation rose from 37 percent in 2005 to 60 percent in 2011. It also noted an increase by all sects except for the Druze community whose support declined from 78 percent in 2005 to 49 percent in 2011.
Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt has criticized the proposal of a new electoral law arguing that it would weaken representation of minorities; reactions from other lawmakers have ranged between full support and cautious interest.
Sleiman has repeatedly argued that introducing proportional representation would help eliminate sectarian sentiments and would also give a voice to all minorities.
Bkirki’s recent support of the electoral system had played a role in boosting support for proportional representation, the study found.
The report, which surveyed participants over the phone using a computer-based program called CATI, said 45 percent of those interviewed said they did not understand the difference between the two systems, 6 percent said they had deep knowledge, 24 percent described their knowledge of the difference as good but not enough, while 21 percent said they had very limited knowledge.
The survey recommends that lawmakers should help citizens better understand the new system and explain the difference which in turn would increase the popularity of the proposed electoral system.
The report noted that male participants were more knowledgeable about the two systems than female participants. Thirty-eight percent of male participants said they had knowledge of the difference, while 20 percent of females surveyed said they did not.
In the north of Lebanon district, 66 percent said they preferred proportional representation, while 62 percent of south Lebanon prefers the new proposed law, compared to 59 percent in Beirut, 58 in Bekaa, and 53 in Mount Lebanon.
However, the survey noted that people favored various constituencies which, it added, reveals how Lebanese sects still prefer to remain isolated.