Lebanon – Cabinet Formation and Consensus on Electoral Law

May 19, 2013

By Padmini Arhant

Lebanon is currently confronted with two major challenges and they are cabinet formation and decision on new electoral law.

Lebanon under Prime Minister-Designate Tammam Salam is engaged in cabinet structure prohibiting selected ministers from contesting in the forthcoming Parliamentary election in adherence to national constitution.

The Premier-Designate proposal to set up National Unity Government might emanate from efforts to appease the centrist faction proclaimed as The Progressive Socialist Party maintaining close ties with Saudi Arabia government and the U.S. backed March 14th Bloc Future Movement headed by former Prime Minister Saad Hariri in the three way distribution of eight posts each shared among the two foreign backed political parties and the national March 8th block holding majority.

Understandably, the March 8th Bloc with higher representation in Parliament as the leading power per electoral choice is not pleased with the caretaker leadership preparation characterized as de facto group rather than acknowledgment of actual composition leading to fair compliance.

Lebanon Prime Minister-Designate Tammam Salam intentions on equal cabinet allocations could very well be regarded as an attempt to alleviate tensions in the political circle.

However, the issue is larger than mere configuration considering Lebanon experience with foreign intervention especially the two parties i.e. centrists and March 14th Bloc liaisons with Saudi Arabia and United States respectively may not necessarily serve national interest.

United States and Saudi Arabia indulgence not only in the Middle East but also in most parts of the world is to derail democracy or democratic prospects and cause sectarianism within society prominently in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Bahrain, Egypt, Yemen and Tunisia to name a few among many others across the globe.

Not to mention United States led western powers and Saudi Arabia teamed up with Qatar, Turkey, Jordan and UAE in the Middle East primarily responsible for Syrian conflict with spill over in Lebanon.

U.S. and Saudi meddling creating political crisis is well established and more relevant to Lebanon including the present situation.

Saudi regime opposed to democracy anywhere is to defend dynasty rule in Saudi Arabia and other gulf states while remaining subservient to western hegemony viz. United Sates, Israel, Britain, France and Germany by exchanging petro dollars for arms used against peaceful protesters subjecting them to torture, renditions and killings with western powers justifying their arms sales to repressive governments for Israel’s protection even though reality confirms belligerence.

United States and Britain in cohort with EU anti-democratic missions not barring assassinations is to expand imperialism far and wide.

Lebanon precautionary measures in the face of illegal invasion of Syria is extremely important rejecting influences from United States, Saudi Arabia and the likes on Israel’s behalf preventing history repeating itself given the prolonged civil war in recent memory and persistent Israeli aggression through reconnaissance undermining Lebanon sovereignty.

Lebanon’s neutral position on Syria is prudent and simultaneously eliminating militant activities and weapons smuggling across the border especially in areas like Tripoli, Akkar, Ersal and Wadi Khaled would ease the burden on Lebanon in containing Syrian refugee influx into the country.

Lebanese government and national defense force combined efforts in dealing with terror manifestations along Syrian border is critical for domestic security.

Notwithstanding humanitarian as well as economic problems directly affecting Lebanon due to these loopholes facilitating violence in the neighboring state Syria forcing residents to flee their homeland.

Tightening border patrol with deployment in territories vulnerable to terrorist access is essential to remove terror.

Premier- Designate Tammam Salam adopting strategy in accordance with electoral mandate represented in Parliament would be a viable option.

Whoever has fair share of votes elected to power to form government.

In this instance, the March 8th Bloc or Loyalty to Resistance Bloc concerns are legitimate and moving ahead with cabinet reflecting Parliamentary composition for each political party would be a logical approach conforming to democratic standard.

The question of unilateral rule would not apply upon meeting the constitutional and Parliamentary requirements with political parties gaining power sometimes as absolute majority or by coalition as long as republic will is honored to govern the state.

Lebanon’s caretaker leadership commitment to Lebanese electorate would guarantee political stability instead of adjustments to accommodate foreign backed members that compromise citizens rights to self-determination.

Premier-designate Tammam Salam factual consideration correlating with Parliamentary proportion when finalizing cabinet portfolio is the pragmatic solution to the otherwise unnecessary political stalemate.

On the electoral law – the contentions are choosing between Orthodox gathering proposal favoring winner-takes-all system and proportional representation system which is the existing law introduced in 1960.

Lebanon Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri suggestion on Hybrid vote law allowing 64 Muslim and Christian MPs elected under orthodox system while the other 64 Muslim and Christian MPs to be elected on proportional representation system is peace-making formula unfortunately not suitable in practicality.

Universal method for local and national election is always better to minimize confusion among voters in the country. Besides uniformity is also cost effective.

Winner-takes-all-system often produces great deal of disappointment for losing candidacy supporters and as a result nation remains polarized on legislation.

Whereas proportional representation system provides opportunity to cast ballots on specific to general voter aspiration.

Another added value in this context is representation made possible across the spectrum almost in entirety leaving none behind qualifying as functional democracy unlike winner-takes-all-system uncertainty to encompass diverse perspectives of population.

Effectively proportional representation involves majority rule i.e. popular preference concurrently enabling minority engagement in legislative process as expected in republic governed democracy.

Lebanon could no longer afford to waste time with political disagreements stalling economic progress.

Israeli encroachment is a serious violation and deserves proper surveillance and deterrence mechanism in place.

Political vacuum is an invitation for infiltration jeopardizing independent status.

Lebanon political leaderships together with members in Parliament and caretaker governance efficient performance demonstrating mutual cooperation for national goals prioritizing security and economic growth is imperative in the interim and long term.

Peace in Syria would ensure stability in Lebanon and across Middle East.

Hence Lebanon utilizing maximum potential blocking terrorism within and around national boundary is a permanent task unyielding to any distraction.

Wishing success to citizens in Lebanon and leaderships in the caretaker government Prime Minister-Designate Tammam Salam and political parties for amicable resolution on impending national affairs.

Peace to Lebanon!

Peace to all!

Thank you.

Padmini Arhant