Waiting for the Electoral Law- Preemptive Moves, Retirements and Refusals

Lebanese Parties’ Stances on the Different Electoral Laws

However it should be fun imagining Berri backing the Orthodox Gathering’s Law should the Christian parties agree on it.

I’m selfishly quoting myself from a post I wrote three weeks ago. The surprise: Now Berri is backing the Orthodox Gathering’s Law, and so is Hezbollah. The Christian parties, however, did not agree on it. Two things need to be carefully noticed: The Shia duo’s preemptive move that put the FM and its Christian allies in an awkward position, and the Christian parties’ failure to agree on a Law.

Giving up 64 MPs on a sectarian basis is not a joke. Amal and Hezbollah carefully took their positions, after noticing that Future Movement’s MPs will never agree that such a Law passes. Hezbollah and Amal don’t want this law to pass either. They will lose the control of a handful of seats – even though not as much as the FM – and will be restricting themselves to 27 seats. However they were more smart than the FM: They “backed” the Law, made themselves look as if they were the Christian’s electoral Salvation, destroyed the FM by showing the Christian community that the FM wishes them no electoral power, and finally made Geagea look lonely by picturing him as the Christian Leader that will go against the most favorable law for his sect and as a minor leader that can’t do anything without Hariri’s approval. After all, the whole issue did appear as if Hezbollah and AMAL were following Aoun’s order on the electoral law while Geagea was following Hariri’s orders. If FM would’ve played Hezbollah’s skillful strategy, Hezbollah would have probably reacted like the FM did now. But the FM wasn’t fast nor clever enough to do what Aoun’s Shia allies did. But what is even more interesting in all this hustle and bustle is that the Shia parties were so confident in the Christian disagreement that they decided to take a very risky bet on it.

Another interesting move is Safadi’s decision not to run in the next parliamentary elections, maybe because there’s a tendency of implementing a Law preventing an MP to be a member of the Government. After all, M8 doesn’t have a lot of influential Sunni politicians like Mikati and Safadi , and Safadi might have been promised with the premiership.  Safadi’s move can also be seen as a hint to M8 and M14 that he is able to form an independent neutral government that will organise the elections. If he won’t run, why Shouldn’t he organize them?

But the week’s most important electoral statement was Mikati’s silence. He refused the Orthodox Gathering’s law (By asking for a Law that’s in line with the Taef Agreement and by his several hints that the government’s law is the best one available) unlike – apparently – all his allies. We already know the positions of all the parties on most of the Laws. They all have powerful religious regional political vetoes on laws, but the only direct veto is in the hands of Mikati. Mikati had a clear message, and has a powerful weapon. No one can form a government in this current situation. If he resigns, there’s a vacuum, and if there’s a governmental vacuum, the parliament is constitutionally paralyzed. If it happens that a law passes, Mikati wants to make sure that he will be one of its engineers, and that he won’t be thrown away in some potential consensual law excluding him.

This week, confusion was still the rule regarding the Law. The MPs are still discussing three proposals, and there is practically no hope of a breakthrough or consensual agreement. This week, the only difference is that Mikati left the bench and joined the Game, Hezbollah and AMAL made an amazing performance and Safadi is planning to retire with the hope of being M8’s future coach.

Inspired By The Clasico.