Waiting For The Electoral Law – March 14’s Hybrid Law: A Review

Lebanon's Electoral Map According To The March 14's Hybrid Law. The colored districts are the small winner-takes-all ones and the big ones within the white line are the big districts under proportional unlike in the picture.

Lebanon’s Electoral Map According To The March 14’s Hybrid Law. The colored districts are the small winner-takes-all districts and the big ones within the white line are the big districts under proportional representation.

The Lebanese Forces, Future Movement, and the PSP agreed on a hybrid electoral law last week. The law is very similar to the electoral law the Lebanese Forces proposed in February (Here’s the analysis on that law), with some exceptions. I’m going to use the same arguments I used when I reviewed the previous law, but comment on the new changes. Unlike the previous law that had an unclear criteria here, I didn’t find any criteria at all for this law

Here’s the number of voters by sects, in case you’re interested:

Number of voters (and percentage) in each district according to their religion.

Also, here’s a table for the seat allocations:

Table of seats according to March 14's hybrid law

Table of seats according to March 14’s hybrid law (High Res)

In a nutshell, the law separates Lebanon into two types of constituencies: 26 small districts (Allocated 68 seats), that are in most cases cazas, under a winner-takes-all system and 6 big districts (Allocated 60 seats), that are in most cases the mohafazas, under a PR system. The main aim of the law is to get the biggest number of Christian-elected MPs to the parliament. The electoral constituencies are in most cases the administrative districts (Cazas, Governorates) of Lebanon. However, there are some few weird things: West Bekaa-Rashaya or Baalbek-Hermel aren’t separated. Also, on a bigger level, the Mohafaza of Mount-Lebanon is split to two districts: A northern bigger one and a southern smaller one (Aley-Chouf).

From Unclear Criteria To No Criteria At All (Or How It Keeps Getting Worse)

My criticism on the old law proposal:

The previous law proposal of the Lebanese forces allocated the seats on the basis of a certain criteria that you can see here. However, a big number of the districts don’t obey to any of the criteria. For example, in Jezzine the Greek Catholics aren’t considered to be a minor sect in the district so the seat stays in the caza and doesn’t shift to the governorate. That’s only one example, and there’s a lot more. Apparently the Christian seats are taken as one block and the minor Christian sects’ seats within a Christian district with a Maronite majority don’t go to the Mohafazas and stay in the caza. The lawmakers need to clarify a few things. Also, there are other districts where the criteria is missing something or doesn’t match the district’s seat repartition. For example, why is it that the Protestant seat gets transferred from Beirut I to the Governorate and not the Armenian Catholic one?

My new criticism: There seems to be no criteria at all in the allocation of seats. There are several small changes in a lot of districts (The Chouf gets 4 MPs instead of 3 in the old hybrid LF proposal. Baalbak gets 4 instead of 5. Tripoli gets for instead of 3, just as examples). Also, the law is clearly in favor of the March 14 parties, while giving the Christians a bigger influence than the 1960 law.

Unequal Voting (same criticism than before)

Among other things that makes this draft law odd is the disproportion of seats within the majoritarian system. For example, Akkar, where 120608 voted in 2009, has 3 seats, while Bcharre that had 17183 voters in 2009 has 2 seats. Bcharre voters are 4.55% of the North’s voters, while Akkar voters are 31.96% of the North voters. That means that on the Mohafaza scale, the Akkaris get to choose 31.96% of 11 MPs which is 3.51 MPs. A total of 3.51+3=6.51 MPs for the people of Akkar, while Bcharre gets to choose 4.55% of 11 MPs which is 0.50 MPs. A total of 2+0.50=2.50 MPs for Bcharre. the number of electors in Akkar are 7.01 times more than Bcharre, which means that Akkar should have 7 times more MPs. Ironically it only has 6.51/2.50= 2.6 times more than Bcharre.

That disproportion between the districts will be present in almost all hybrid laws, because some districts get to have more influence sometimes even though they have a smaller population. And after all, that’s how the law gives more influence to Christians. When the Akkar (66% Sunni) district should be as 7 times more influential than Bcharre (100% Christian) and is instead only 2.66 times more influential, you get to understand how the Christians, 38%, will be able to elect 52 MPs (40.62%). A big number of the small districts happen to be mainly Christian and that’s how the Lebanese Forces draft law can boost the number of the Christian-elected MPs.

The Analysis (The Small Differences That Made Future Movement and the PSP Accept The Law)

If you take a look at the previous electoral law proposed by the Lebanese Forces in February, you’ll quickly spot some interesting differences with the current consensual LF-PSP-FM law:

  1. Instead of having 3 seats, Tripoli gets one additional seat. That means that the Mikati Bloc will find it harder to run on the Mohafaza now that it has lost a Sunni MP there (The “proportional representation” North district has 4 MPs now instead of 5, making it hard for Mikati to get an extra MP using the M8 votes of the Mohafaza, while the FM will get an extra MP on the caza where they can easily win all the 4 seats of Tripoli because it’s under a majoritarian system)
  2. Instead of having 5 seats, Baalbak-Hermel ends up with 4 seats (1 gets transferred to the governorate) meaning that Hezbollah will lose an extra MP that will be put in the governorate where he will be subject to the influence of all of the governorate’s voting where the Shias are 42% thus lessening the Shia influence on that extra seat.
  3. Beirut: Instead of having a Beirut I of 5 MPs and a Beirut III of 2 MPs, the number of MPs becomes 4 for Beirut I that is up to 85% Christian and 4 to Beirut III that is 28% Christian. Meaning that the Christians lose the ability to elect en extra MP in Beirut I while also losing the ability to influence the election of 2 more MPs that were transferred from Beirut III to the Mohafaza (according to the previous LF law) where the Christians are 35%. That suits the FM by minimizing the Christian influence.
  4. Also, there’s a remake of Beirut I. It loses Mdawar (the Armenian district) to Beirut II, meaning that the Armenian population, that supports M8, would not be able to help M8 win Beirut I anymore.
  5. Instead of Having 3 MPs in the Caza and 2 in the Mohafaza for Kesserwan (like the previous LF law proposal), there are now 2 in the Caza and 3 in the Governorate. The LF has lost the 2 previous elections in Kesserwan. Minimizing the number of MPs on the Caza is a smart way from them to get a better result, so that they might win that extra MP in case they get better results in Northern Mount Lebanon.
  6. And now the Best part, the Chouf and Southern Mount-Lebanon: Baabda that has no more than  18% of Druze votes gets removed from Southern Mount Lebanon and added to Northern Mount Lebanon. Also, the Chouf gets an extra MP, making them 4. That can only mean that Jumblat will be able to directly control 6 seats on the majoritarian system (4 from Chouf, 2 from Aley), but also to influence the election on the “Proportional Representation district” of Chouf-Aley (Southern Mount-Lebanon), where the Druze will form around 40%, now that it’s deprived from the Christian-Shia heavyweight of Baabda. 40% of 7 MPs is somewhere around 3 MPs for Jumblatt (that’s if he’s running alone), giving him a total of 9 MPs. Jumblatt will thus be (more or less) able to keep the same size of his bloc.
  7. Northern Mount-Lebanon: Now that Baabda joined the others, the Shia vote will be somewhere around 15%. However, 2 of the 12 seats are Shia, meaning that 16% of the seats are Shia. There will be thus an overflow from the Christian votes toward the Shia seat, and the Christian influence (including the LF) would not be diminished in the PR district.
  8. Hasbaya-Marjeyoun aren’t separated anymore, and there is only 1 MP on the Caza scale and not 2 like before. This is clealry intended to maximize the number of seats on the Mohafaza (South) scale, where M14 hs a bigger chance of getting MPs, knowing that the Shias are a majority in Marjeyoun-Hasbaya meaning that M8 will still win anything there because of the winner takes-all system. The Shia still are a majority in the South, but with proportional representation and a big number of seats, M14 will surely do better.

How Much Christian-elected seats?

  • On The winner-takes-all districts: Beirut I (4), Baabda (3), Metn (4), Kesserwan (2), Jbeil (1), Batroun (2), Bsharri (2), Koura (2), Zgharta (2), Jezzine (2), Zahle (5). A total of 29
  • On the Proportional Reresentation districts: North (4.4 = 40% of 11), Northern Mount Lebanon (8.68 = 72% of 12), Southern Mount Lebanon (2.6 = 37% of 7), Bekaa (3.36 = 28% of 12), South (1.65 = 15.6% of 11), Beirut (2.8= 35% of 8). A total of 23.49 seats

That means that the Christians, under that draft law, would elect 52.49 seats. Under the previous hybrid law draft, the Christians were able to elect 56. The Lebanese Forces had  to please their allies somehow….

So Who Wins?

I’m going to consider that the Lebanese are reluctant to change, elect the same MPs again and again and apply the results of 2009 on the new Lebanese Forces law.

  • The Cazas

M14: Koura (2), Batroun (2), Bcharri (2), Meniyeh-Donieh (2), Tripoli (4), Akkar (3), Metn (1/4), Chouf (4), Aley (2), Saida (2),, Zahle (5), West Bekaa-Rashaya (3), Beirut (4,2,4). A total of 42/68 seats in the winner-takes-all districts for M14

M8: Zgharta (2), Metn (3/4), Jbeil (1), Kesserwan (2), Baabda (3), Jezzine (2),Tyre (2), Saida Villages(1), Nabatiyeh (2), Bint Jbeil (2), Marjeyoun (1), Baalbak-Hermel (5). A total of 26/68 seats in the Winner-takes-all districts for M8.

PS: For Beirut, I considered that the agreements of Doha splitting the Beirut 2 seats equally between M14 and M8 are now history. For the Governorate of Beirut (Proportional Representation), I use the same results as 2009.

  • The Governorates

I used the results of 2009,  and made these tables:

Results according to the hybrid law (1) Results according to the hyvrid law (2)

PS: I don’t know what the minimum threshold (The minimum percentage that a list should have so that it can get one of its candidates elected) will be, so I made the assumption that it would be somewhere around 10%. That’s why you will notice the presence of independent MPs.

That means that the final outcome is 68 (26+42) MPs  for M14, 55 MPs for M8 (29+26), and 5 Independent MPs.

As you can notice, we have an independent breach, but the results are clearly in favor of M14, even  almost the same results than 2009 (70-58).  A lot of things changed since 2009 and a number of alliances will probably change, but that’s approximatively how the results might look like.

With 9 seats for Jumblatt, and a difference of 70-58, the Bey of Mukhtara will still be Lebanon’s Kingmaker. That’s exactly why the Progressive Socialist Party gave its approval to this draft law.

Gerrymandering, Again.

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One comment

  1. Well documented chief, I think the whole issue is about preservation of their control with a bit more that no other party is ready to give away… I guess its about time Gerrymandering gets flushed down the drain along with the Confessional apartheid logic…

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