Dash­ing our hopes for re­form

Af­ter a four-year Par­lia­ment ex­ten­sion, we de­mand elec­tions in 2017

Executive Magazine - - Front Page -

Back in 2013, Par­lia­ment ex­tended its own man­date in part to al­low it more time to agree on a fair and rep­re­sen­ta­tive elec­toral law. In­stead of spend­ing four years work­ing to­ward this goal, the leg­is­la­ture did very lit­tle with the four ex­tra years in of­fice it granted it­self. From the sec­ond the ink dried on Par­lia­ment’s sec­ond term ex­ten­sion (re­mem­ber, the four years were granted in two chunks), it was clear a new law needed to be agreed prior to Fe­bru­ary 21, 2017– the date on which the cur­rent law says vot­ers must be wel­comed to the polls sched­uled for May 21.

Miss­ing that dead­line is in­ex­cus­able. When Pres­i­dent Michel Aoun as- sumed of­fice in late Oc­to­ber 2016, it was clear the govern­ment formed as a re­sult of his elec­tion would be short­lived, with a very nar­row man­date: choos­ing a new elec­toral law. In­stead of im­me­di­ately get­ting to work on agree­ing to a more fair and rep­re­sen­ta­tive elec­toral law dur­ing cabi­net ses­sions, this de­bate has been held in se­cret among po­lit­i­cal par­ties. While some of the work cabi­net and Par­lia­ment have done since De­cem­ber is im­por­tant and helps build con­fi­dence (such as pass­ing the oil and gas de­crees and leg­is­lat­ing the right to in­for­ma­tion), po­lit­i­cal life in this coun­try is once again seem­ingly grind­ing to a halt, ev­i­denced by dead­lock over not only a new elec­toral law, but over the coun­try’s first bud­get in more than 10 years.

At the mo­ment our econ­omy needs con­fi­dence more than any­thing. Even if the po­lit­i­cal class had passed a “re­formed” elec­toral law, there’s no doubt it would have been fine-tuned to best serve the par­ties in power. So while we de­fend and still hope for the ac­tual im­ple­men­ta­tion of the con­sti­tu­tion (in­clud­ing elec­tions free of sec­tar­ian quo­tas and cre­ation of a Se­nate), we re­al­ize get­ting there will be a slow process. In the im­me­di­ate term, we sim­ply need the govern­ment to meet the min­i­mum re­quire­ment of hold­ing par­lia­men­tary elec­tions as soon as prac­ti­ca­ble.

Par­lia­ment Speaker Nabih Berri re­cently set April 17 as a new dead­line by which a de­ci­sion on an elec­toral law must be made. Our politi­cians can­not miss an­other dead­line. We want the process of draft­ing a new elec­toral law to be trans­par­ent. We want that law to be fair and rep­re­sen­ta­tive. We are, how­ever, re­al­is­tic and re­luc­tantly ac­cept that re­form might not ma­te­ri­al­ize this year. No mat­ter which law is used, we de­mand elec­tions in 2017. We’ve waited long enough.

Par­lia­ment Speaker Nabih Berri re­cently set April 17 as a new dead­line

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Lebanon

© PressReader. All rights reserved.