Lebanon behind Arab Spring states on electoral reform

Published on Daily Star, Lebanon, by Van Meguerditchian, June 8, 2012.

BEIRUT: With no agreement on the horizon about a new electoral law and parliamentary elections a year away, many Lebanese are eyeing the electoral achievements made by Tunisia and Egypt following the Arab Spring.

Items of electoral reform that activists have promoted for years have now been adopted in Tunisia and Egypt, after popular pro-democracy demonstrations led to the collapse of regimes that had ruled for decades. 

But Lebanon is far from reaching agreement on its own electoral change, according to Adnan Melki, secretary-general of the Lebanese Association for Democratic Reform … //

Speaking at UNESCO Palace Thursday during an event entitled the National Day for Electoral Reform, Zard said that “the revolution of Jan. 25 quickly turned a dream into a reality.”

Zard said that at least 200,000 Egyptian expatriates voted in parliamentary elections after registering on the website of the country’s Higher Judicial Election Commission.

“After filling in their personal information and national ID number [online], each person was given a special registration code that identified them with their respective embassies.”

Some 10 months after the popular uprising that ousted former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, parliamentary elections were held in three phases between November 2011 and January 2012.

Zard added that registered voters printed their ballots, enclosed them in an envelope and delivered them to their embassies.

According to Zard, half of the Egyptians known to be in Lebanon participated in the country’s first post-Mubarak presidential elections.

Egypt abolished a Mubarak-era woman’s quota ahead of its parliamentary elections; in contrast, Tunisia’s High Independent Electoral Commission required half the candidates on all electoral lists to be women.

“Unfortunately though, only 59 out of 217 of the elected of the parliament were women,” said Al-Asaad al-Mahyirsi, a representative of the Tunisian Embassy in Beirut.

He also said that the establishment of the High Independent Electoral Commission in Tunisia was crucial to ensuring that last October’s elections were democratic and transparent.

“Many of the reforms ahead of our elections were made possible because all [political parties] were able to reach agreement on them,” Mahyirsi added.

Though largescale calls for electoral reform in Lebanon preceded those in Egypt and Tunisia, in the past few years change has been hampered by instability and political bickering between rival political coalitions.

One group working for electoral change is the Civil Campaign for Electoral Reform founded in 2006.

The CCER calls for proportional representation instead of the current winner-take-all system. It also calls for 33 percent of electoral lists to be women, lowering the voting age to 18 and for the establishment of an Independent Electoral Commission to oversee polls … (full text).


Arab Spring on en.wikipedia;

Arab Spring benefited only Israel, on Voltaire Network, Interview with Lebanese Interior Minister Marwan Charbel, June 7, 2012;

Statement by Navi Pillay on the killings in El-Houleh: The deteriorating human rights situation in the Syrian Arab Republic and the killings in El-Houleh, on Voltaire Network, Geneva, June 1, 2012;

Syrian intervention risks upsetting global order, on Voltaire Network, by Henry Kissinger, June 1, 2012.

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