WED 18 - 10 - 2017
Date: Mar 8, 2017
Source: The Daily Star
Lebanon: Future, Change and Reform blocs renew calls for new vote law
BEIRUT: Lebanese parties Tuesday renewed calls for the endorsement of a new electoral law, warning of a parliamentary vacuum.

“The elections should be held on time according to a new law mixing between proportional and majoritarian voting systems,” MP Mohammad Hajjar said, reading a Future Movement parliamentary bloc statement.

Lebanon’s last parliamentary elections were held in 2009 based on a winner-takes-all vote law dubbed the 1960 voting system. The Parliament’s term was extended twice in 2013 and 2014 over security concerns.

“All parties should be represented [at the Parliament],” the statement said, adding that parties should abide by “constitutional deadlines concerning the elections.”

Political rivals remain sharply divided on the characteristics of the new electoral law that will govern the elections slated for May 21.

On Feb. 21, Prime Minister Saad Hariri signed the electorate decree for the coming 2017 elections based on the current 1960 vote law and referred it to President Michel Aoun, who has yet to ink it.

Aoun has rejected holding the elections on the basis of the current law and threatened that he would use his prerogatives to prevent a third parliamentary term extension.

Meanwhile, Justice Minister Salim Jreissati, who belongs to the Free Patriotic Movement, said that “extending the term [of Parliament] and the 1960 electoral law are both worse than vacuum.”

Speaking after FPM’s Change and Reform bloc weekly meeting, Jreissati warned that it had exhausted all its initiatives, calling on rival parties to "end deliberations on a new electoral law in a positive [manner]."

“We are compelled to agree on the common points between us,” Jreissati said, urging swift development and reforms in public affairs management.

“Reform starts with a [new] salary scale,” Jreissati added, stressing the need for “clear provisions relevant to the reform of public finance.”

While Finance Minister Ali Hasan Khalil has proposed increasing taxes to cover the new wage hike for public servants, which has been pending the Parliament’s since 2012, many public figures have called for cracking down on the embezzlement of public funds and enhancing the process of tax and fee collection to meet the needs of public expenditure.

Tuesday afternoon, the joint parliamentary committees failed to approve the public sector wage hike discussing plans to finance the LL1.2 trillion ($800 million) salary scale bill.

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