Waiting for the Electoral Law- March 14’s Proposal Or the 50 Districts Law

Lebanon’s Approximate Electoral Map According to 14 March Alliance’s proposal (The fifty districts)
PS: The District borders might be inaccurate (Especially in the North (Akkar) and Bekaa (Baalback))

You can check the draft law here

The Lebanese Forces, Phalangist Party and other Christian Opposition Parties proposed in the past few days an electoral Law dividing Lebanon to 50 separate electoral constituencies. The law has two important features: The high number of electoral districts (And thus the smaller sizes of the districts), and the winner-takes all system (Or majoritarian representation). I found it very similar to the 1960 law, except for the shape and number of constituencies. The constituencies aren’t exclusively administrative ones (Cazas are not always taken as districts) and they aren’t geographic either. However the law follows clear demographic religious patterns in the remodeling of the districts. What the lawmakers of the Christian M14 parties seem to have done is the following: They have taken all the districts of the 1960 Law that have a number of MPs higher than 3 and divided them to smaller constituencies that have religiously defined borders. The law is clearly shape in the favor of the M14 Alliance. The majoritarian system is on their side, and the electoral constituencies too. We’ll see each district by itself.

The Seven Constituencies Of Beirut. Yes, Seven. Believe it or not, Beirut will be divided to seven electoral districts, clearly in favor of M14.

  • The Eastern Districts. The eastern districts are the ones that form East Beirut. They are mainly Christian (Ashrafieh, Rmeil, Saifi, Mdawar, Marfa’a). If you compare the Government’s proposal to M14’s one, you will find something very interesting. In the government one, Ashrafieh, Rmeil, Saifi, Mdawar and Marfa’a are merged with Bashoura and have all together 9 MPs, two of them Muslim (Probably representing Bashoura). However, in the M14’s proposal, the five Christian Streets Regions are left alone, and they have a representation of 8 MPs – All Christians – while the Bashoura one is merged with two other streets in the Western part. That means that the Christian districts have one more Christian MP while losing the influence of the Muslim Bashoura (That has one of the two Shia MPs of Beirut, so the Sunni weight won’t be totally in favor with the LF, especially that the Sunni will be more or less divided by June). The Christian Right-Wing parties should be pleased with these new constituencies. The last step is destroy Michel Aoun in East Beirut by taking his solid ally: The Armenians (mainly loyal to the Tashnag). They have isolated the district of Medawar (Beirut 3) that carries an armenian weight to leave the other four with 6 MPs  Armenianless. It’s harder for Michel Aoun to win in the other streets without the help of the Tashnag, which is a positive thing for his opponents. The four other streets were divided into two constituencies just because the purpose of the Law is to have constituencies with two or three MPs only. The division is also made to separate what remains of the Armenian vote between Beirut 1 (Ashrafieh) and Beirut 2 (Rmel, Saifi, Marfa’a).
  • The Western Districts. Also Known As West Beirut during the war, the mainly Muslim regions. They were mainly shaped to make the constituencies compatible with 2 or 3 MPs. Beirut 4 is made of Zukak EL Blat and Ras Beirut. Zukak EL Blat has a Shia weight, so it is merged with the Sunni heavyweight Ras Beirut to make sure nothing goes wrong. Beirut 5 is also made in the same logic. Ayn El Mraisse and Mina El Hosn should make sure that nothing goes bad in the district at whole especially that Bachoura has a number of Shias in it. The other two, Mazra’a and Mousaytbe each form Beirut 6 and Beirut 7 which have a specific design too: Maximize their number of MPs each to 3 because they are safe for M14 and it’s not at all risky to have a high number of MPs in them (It’s safer to have 3 MPs in Beirut 7 than in Beirut 5 for example). It’s like a 2-17 loss for M8 in Beirut, while they can get with a PR result up to 6 or 7 MPs.

The 14 Districts Of Mount-Lebanon. Baabda, Metn and the Chouf were separated to three districts each, Aley and Kesserwan to two each, and Jbeil was Kept as it is.

  • Baabda. Baabda was shattered into three pieces. Baabda 1, a Shia district on the coast, including Beirut’s Southern Suburb (Commonly reffered as Dahieh) with two Shia MPs, Baabda 2, a Christian one in the center with 2 Maronite MPs, and a Baabda 3 Christo-Druze one in the heights of the Caza – refered to as the Upper Metn- with 1 Druze and 1 Maronite. Baabda was always pro-Aounist because of the Shia on the coast that toggled the whole District to M8. Now, the Shias are separated from the Christians, The Druze can toggle the two seat of Baabda 3 towards M14 while the LF and Phalangists have a shot in winning Baabda 2. In the end, M8 might lose a minimum of two seats and can even lose two others. What is under the current 2008 law a 6-0 win can be under this law a 2-4 Loss for M8.
  • Metn. Same logic used in Beirut is reused here. Separate the Armenian allies of Aoun in a single 2 seat district, Metn 1, formed of Burj Hammoud and three other towns, and make sure he loses the six others MPs in the Metn because he lacks the Tachnag Support. The two other districts, Metn 2 and Metn 3 are divided to maximize M14’s chance in winning the Metn. That takes Aoun from a 6-2 Win to 2-6 Loss.
  • Chouf. The Chouf always had three ingredients: The Christians, the Druze, and the Sunnis. The electoral change in the Chouf has a bigger tendency to make M14 more independent from Jumblatt. In fact, the Druze, Christian and Sunni regions were  separated. Jumblatt is no longer the sole master of the Chouf. He can be the sole master of the Chouf 2, a district where most of the Druze towns were gathered, and thus dropping Jumblatt’s influence over the Christian Chouf 1, which carries in it most of the Christian villages forming a majority with some Druze villages to keep the equilibrium in favor of M14 (So Aoun will still find it hard to win). The Chouf 3 however is a mainly Sunni district (Iklim AL Kharroub) with 2 Sunni MPs. It is quite clear that Future Movement and the Christian Parties of the Opposition had enough of Jumblatt’s shifts and electoral manipulation. The Chouf’s remodeling shows that they want to be electorally independent from Jumblatt.
  • Aley. Aley, the only Lebanese Caza in Mount Lebanon with a Druze majority is divided into two parts, a part that apparently (The numbers should be checked though) has a slight Christian Majority, Aley 1 (Including the city of Aley) with three MPs that will still be under M14’s control while not totally being controlled by the Druze. Which means that the Christian opposition parties will have a say in this district.  And another part, Aley 2 (with an epicenter the city of Chouweifat), that is mainly Druze with a number of Christian towns. The power of Erslan (Rival of Jumblatt) in this newly established district puts the Christian Opposition Parties in a stronger position: Jumblatt needs their votes now more than they need his votes.
  • Kesserwan. This is Michel Aoun’s stronghold. Maximizing M14’s chances is clear: Dividing the purely Maronite district into two – geographically separated this time – districts, Kesserwan 1 (The Kesserwan proper) and Kesserwan 2 ( The Ftouh). That highly increases the chance of having a minimum of 2 or even 3 MPs in Aoun’s castle.
  • Jbeil. Jbeil wasn’t touched because you can’t play with its borders. It’s already a 3 MP district and you can’t split it into two. Aoun will probably still win here because of Jbeil’s Shia votes.

The Nine Districts Of the Bekaa. That’s a number three times higher than the current number of constituencies. Zahle has three  sons, Baalback-Hermel has four daughters, and the West Bekaa-Rachaya twins were separated.

  • Baablback-Hermel. Baalback-Hermel usually has 10 MPs under the earlier laws: 6 Shias, two Sunnis, and two Christian towns. For technical reasons (You can’t have more than 3 MP/district), Hermel took her independence with 2 Shia MPs. That’s Baalback 1. Baalback 2 is also created for technical reasons. It includes most of the Shia towns and has 3 Shia MPs. However, Baalback 3 is an aggregation of all the Christian towns (That are not all geographically homogenous by the way) with two MPs. The Lebanese Forces have a chance of getting these two seats in the heartland of Hezbollah. The sunni towns however form with some Shia towns another Baalback 4, with the Sunni votes probably outnumbering the Shia ones and putting Hezbollah at risk. A Shia and Sunni MP might be lost in that constituency. That means Hezbollah only controls 6 of the 10 seats he used to control, and the Feudal lords might do an awakening especially in the Hermel region where clans might beat Hezbollah. Losing 4 Seats and risking 2 is bad. Very Bad for Hezbollah, especially in the Northern Bekaa.
  • Zahle. Zahle was divided to three districts. Zahle 1 has the Christian towns that are more or less around Zahle, coupled with some Sunni towns (like Saadnayel) to make sure that the Christian Opposition will have the biggest share and will name their members in this district, while the Sunni votes are too small to give Hariri an influence in the process of Naming candidates but yet strong enough to make Skaff and Aoun lose in this district. Zahle 2 absorbs the Armenian votes within the Sunni towns of the Southern parts of the Caza and forbids them any pro-M8 influence in Zahle 1. Zahle 3, that is made for technical reasons, contains the Northern Shia towns and has two MPs, the minimum number possible.
  • West Bekaa- Rachaya. They were separated for technical reasons. The Christian Opposition Parties can feel a bit more comfortable in the West Bekaa without the Sunni-Druze influence of Rachaya. M14 will win there anyway. The Druze and Sunnis outnumber Shias in both districts.

The Eleven Constituencies Of The North. Zgharta, Bcharreh, Koura and Minieh-Donieh were kept the same, while Tripoli, Akkar and Batroun were Modified

  • Zgharta, Bcharre, Koura, Minieh-Donieh. They’re already to small to be modified or divided. Plus M14 controls them all except Zgharta which can be won if M14 makes a breathtaking campaign.
  • Batroun. Batroun was given one more MP (a Maronite transferred from Tripoli), that will make the Christian Opposition a more independent from its Sunni allies.
  • Akkar. Akkar was divided to three districts: Akkar 1, with 2 MPs, created for technical reasons, Akkar 2, regrouping all the Christian towns of the Caza with some Sunni towns (same strategy of Zahle 1), with 3 MPs, and Akkar 3, created for technical reasons with 2 MPs. separating the Christian towns from the Sunni ones here is also intended  to make the LF and the Phalangist more Sunni-Independent while keeping the area at whole under the M14’s dominion.
  • Tripoli. The city was divided to 3 parts, Tripoli 1, Tripoli 2, Tripoli 3, with a majoritarian representation, making it harder for Mikati to get what he deserves. This way Future Movement can crush any rising Salafi or Mikatist party that might threaten Tripoli’s seven seats.

The 4 Constituencies Of Nabatiyeh . Nabatiyeh and Bint-Jbeil are kept the same, while Hasbaya is separated from Marje’youn.

  • Nabatiyeh and Bint Jbeil. They are too small to be sequestrated.
  • Hasbaya and Marje’youn. The mainly druze and Sunni Hasbaya was separated from the Shia heavyweight Marje’youn. M14 can easily secure two seats in Hasbaya this way.

The 5 Constituencies Of The South. They were all kept the same except for Tyre that was divided

  • Zahrani, Saida, Jezzine. They were kept the same because they are too small to be separated. Saida like 2009 doesn’t have any Shia influence coming from Zaharani. That’s a win for M14.
  • Tyre. separated to two, Tyre 1 and Tyre 2 for technical reasons. (Tyre has 4 MPs, has to be divided)

The law will probably never pass. It is engineered to primarily serve the interests of the Christian Opposition Parties and the interests of M14 in general. It destroys Michel Aoun, reduces Hezbollah’s influence, makes Jumblatt electorally weak and separates Christian and Muslim regions in what looks like a federal plan. Some electoral districts aren’t even geographically continuous, and you can clearly see how the Majoritarian Law plays in Favor of M14. The tendency is having bigger districts with PR, and this laws simply goes against everything. The Shia Duo will refuse it, Jumblatt will refuse it, Aoun will refuse it, and Future Movement will only back it to flee from Proportional Representation. After all, it’s one of the few laws that doesn’t use PR, FM’and PSP’s first electoral opponent.

Sorry for the long post, but a lot of gerrymandering requires a lot of analysis.

You might want to check the analysis on the Government’s Draft Law.

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One comment

  1. Its a shame that so much thought was put into such a disgusting proposal of such a disgusting picture we draw of Lebanon .. If its a federation they want then just go ahead and say it , lets lobby for that and don’t pretend like everything is fine and we are all fellow citizens …. The whole country is beyong hopeless . Its doomed
    Your post was really good btw . Thanks for your moulahazat , really enjoyed them

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