Waiting for the Electoral Law- Future Movement’s Proposal Or The 37 Districts Law- Part I

Ahmad Fatfat (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)

Ahmad Fatfat (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)

The number of electoral draft laws being discussed is too damn high. And to make things a bit more complicated than they are, Future Movement just added another draft law, and Ahmad Fatfat (among many other Future Movement MPs) are trying to make sure the draft reaches the electoral committee . The law is in the middle between the 1960 law and the 50 districts law the Lebanese Forces proposed in 2012.

The key feature of the law is that it uses small districts that can have a maximum of 5 MPs and can not be larger than a caza. The districts happen to primarily serve the interests of Future Movement, Jumblatt and in a way the Phalanges and the Lebanese Forces. The main target of the law is to have the approval of Jumblatt and M14’s Christian parties that are tempted by the Orthodox Gathering Law. As we will see, the law gives Jumblatt districts that he can control, and gives the Lebanese forces and the Phalanges some new districts where the influence of Shia and Armenian votes will vanish and others where the Sunni or Druze votes can tilt the scale in the LF’s favor. I’m going to analyze as quickly as possible the districts.

The 4 Constituencies Of Beirut. Beirut is separated to four districts. Two Sunni ones (Beirut 2 and Beirut 3), and two Christian ones (Beirut 1 and Beirut 4).

  • The Eastern Districts.  By “liberating” Mdawar (Beirut 4 doesn’t exist in 1960 law) the FM are creating a district where Christians are a majority but where a strong Sunni minority with the help of M14 Christians can counterbalance the Aounists and the Tashnag. Mdawar has an important Armenian population, and the FM is taking a risk by giving it “independence”. It is very likely that the Tashnag will be victorious in the district, which means that the Lebanese Forces will have to prove that they can handle the situation with the help of some Sunni votes. That’s a gift from the FM to the Lebanese Forces, but a well studied one. Beirut 3 (Ashrafieh, Rmeil, Saifi) stays the same way it was, and the small Sunni minority is expected to tilt the scale too, especially with a majoritarian representation. What’s also interesting is that Mdawar, known for its Armenian weight is alone and not with Beirut 1 so that if M8 happens to take control of Beirut 4, the additional votes won’t have an influence on Beirut 1 (under the government’s proposal of 2012, Beirut 1 and 4 are merged together with two others Beiruti streets)
  • The Western Districts. The majoritarian vote will clearly kill any threat to the FM in the Muslim districts, and that’s 10 MPs (5 in Beirut 2 and 5 in Beirut 3) that the FM can keep under his direct control. Under PR, the FM risks losing 2 or 3 MPs. The FM has created the biggest districts he can (with 5 MPs) , even though the logic of the law permits him to break them up. That can be explained by the fact that Bachoura and Zuqaq El Blat have a Shia population, so merging them with the Sunni heavyweights under a majoritarian representation should be enough to make sure nothing goes wrong for the FM.

The 9 Districts Of Mount-Lebanon. The Chouf, Baabda and Metn are divided to two districts each, while the cazas of Jbeil and Aley remain intact.

  • Baabda. It is separated to two districts, Baabda 1 (2 Shias, 1 Maronite) and Baabda 2 (2 Maronites, 1 Druze). In Baabda, the Shias of the coast and the southern suburbs of Beirut outnumber the Druzes of the Upper Metn. Which means that under the 1960 law, the non divided Baabda goes entirely to the M8 coalition. By separating the coast (Baabda 1) from the other regions (Baabda 2), Future Movement is making sure to take 3 seats from the Shia influence and put them under a Druze one, which is a gift to both the Lebanese Forces and Jumblatt. Jumblatt will be able to have his Druze MP he lost in 2009 back, while the Lebanese forces and their allies will control 2 Christian MPs out of 3 in a Caza known for its support for Michel Aoun.
  • Metn. It is separated to two districts: Metn 1 (Armenian, 1 Maronite, 1 Greek Orthodox)a coastal one where the Armenians are heavily present (Bourj Hammoud), and Metn 2 (2 Maronites, 1 Greek Orthodox, 1 Greek Catholic) which includes the other  regions. Michel Aoun counts on the Armenian votes to win the district, so removing their influence would be fatal for him in Metn 2. He’s going to have Metn 1 and will probably lose Metn 2 that’s known for its support for the Phalanges. Of course, Metn 2 is allocated five seats (the highest number possible according to the law), so that the M14 Christian parties can get the biggest number of MPs possible. If Aoun loses Metn 2, he’s going to lose 3 MPs in the Metn district by dropping from 6 MPs to 3 MPs (out of 8).
  •  Chouf. The Chouf is separated to two districts, a coastal Chouf 1 where the number of Sunni votes is big enough to control the result, with 4 MPs (2 Sunnis and 2 Maronites), and another one, Chouf 2 where the number of Druze votes is big enough to control the result of 4 MPs (2 Druze, 1 Maronite, 1 Greek Catholic). Unlike the Lebanese Forces proposal of 2012 where the Christians get a third district with 3 Christian MPs (See here), this proposal keeps the Christian votes of the Chouf under Sunni or Druze influence. That’s a clear gift to Jumblatt that will be able to get 4 MPs independently from anyone else, and another win for the FM that will get the 4 MPs he might lose in Beirut 4 by winning them back Chouf 1.
  • Kesserwan and Jbeil. The districts aren’t divided to two, so the electoral battle should stay the same as 2009.
  • Aley. The draft law is intended to give the Christian a maximal representation, however the 60000 Christian votes are outnumbered by the Druze ones under a majoritarian representation. That only means that Jumblatt will take the five MPs of Aley in a very easy way. The district could’ve been separated in a way that gives the Druze population the control over 2 or 3 MPs (Like the Lebanese Forces proposal), but instead, it gives Jumblatt the control over 5 MPs. That’s another gift from the FM to the Druze warlord.

More to come, stay tuned.