Hariri Says Parties Seeking 'Consensus' on Electoral Law, Jumblat 'Open to Dialogue'

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Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced Tuesday that the political forces in the country are seeking “consensus” over the electoral law, while noting that the concerns of minorities will be taken into consideration.

“There are several proposals, but we are seeking consensus on a single draft law in order to send it to parliament. We are committed to holding the parliamentary polls on time, but our bigger commitment is reaching a new electoral law,” Hariri told a delegation from the Press Syndicate.

“The introduction of proportional representation is enjoying the support of a lot of political forces and I personally will add to it my commitment to a women's quota,” Hariri added.

Asked about the stances of Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat over the electoral law, Hariri said “Walid Beik is the representative of Druze, part of the country's components and he has essential concerns.”

“Our aim from consensus is relieving all sects, not stirring their concerns. Walid Beik has his viewpoints and he is open to dialogue and I support him in this,” the premier added.

Hizbullah has repeatedly called for an electoral law fully based on proportional representation but other political parties, especially the PSP and al-Mustaqbal Movement, have rejected the proposal, arguing that the party's controversial arsenal of arms would prevent serious competition in regions where the Iran-backed party has clout.

Mustaqbal, the Lebanese Forces and the PSP have meanwhile proposed a hybrid electoral law that mixes the proportional representation and the winner-takes-all systems. Speaker Nabih Berri has also proposed a hybrid law.

The country has not voted for a parliament since 2009, with the legislature instead twice extending its own mandate.

The 2009 polls were held under an amended version of the 1960 electoral law and the next elections are scheduled for May 2017.