Electoral Law

The Adwan Electoral Law: From Bad to Worse?

 

Mabrouk. It’s official: As of June 16, 2017, Lebanon has a new parliamentary electoral law. It is being hailed by the ruling parties as a major achievement, as an iconic moment in the history of Lebanon, the best electoral law to ever see light in the republic. It took Lebanese politicians four years of normal parliamentary time, four other years of extended parliamentary time, three illegal parliamentary extensions, a little less than a year of governmental vacancy, more than two years of a presidential vacancy, two Presidents, four Prime Ministers, five councils of ministers and at least twenty different possible draft electoral laws (not an exaggeration), to reach Lebanon’s new electoral law. Naturally, a sane and optimistic citizen would only expect a perfect electoral law to be the fruit of that difficult and long path. But we live in Lebanon, and the reality is far from being close to that.

The Path Towards a Flawed Design

At first , the new electoral law seems to deliver on the promise of radical change from the “1960” (2008) law, as it replaces Lebanon’s previous law – which is a majoritarian system implemented in districts that vary in size but are mainly small (Bcharre had 2 MPs and Baalbak-Hermel had 10) – with a law that is based on proportional representation with bigger districts (Bcharre was merged with 3 other districts as an example). That theoretical design had been for years demanded by several reform groups as it provides the Lebanese with a more representative parliament, bringing out minorities in districts and mixing up the sectarian composition of the parliamentary blocs, thus reducing sectarianism and giving every party its fair share of the pie while giving the opportunity for new movements to emerge from the shadow of the mainstream parties who were blocking anyone else’s rise to parliament by simply making strategic sectarian-local-tribal alliances that gave them the relative majority in almost all districts.

For that reason, proportional representation was going to be a major blow for traditional Lebanese politicians no matter how they tried to twist with that design. In a proportional system, trying to bypass the electoral hurdles by buying votes would be harder and far less cost-effective, politicians would have to campaign in a way that would be far different from what they had been doing for the past 25 years, they would end up with religiously-mixed blocs no matter what, and they would still find it difficult to contain the rising threat of the newcomer parties (such as Beirut Madinati, Sabaa, You Stink, or other Hirak movements) that would nevertheless make it through, especially after the 2015 trash protests and the 2016 Beirut municipality election results.

This is exactly why, for years, Lebanese politicians worked to avoid proportional representation, at first agreeing in Doha (2008) on a modified version of the 1960 law instead of passing proportional representation, and then individually endorsing something other than mainstream proportionality afterwards, with the PSP refusing their cabinet’s proportional draft in 2012, then March 14 parties proposing a 50 districts law, which was quickly followed by a modified 37 district law in 2013,  while the FPM were at the same time trying to distort the representative and diverse essence of proportionality by trying to implement an apartheid draft electoral law that would only allow MPs to be elected by people from their own sect (the Orthodox Gathering law), and finally Hezbollah/Amal trying to scare everyone with proportional representation by suggesting to make Lebanon a single district with proportionality – something 2013 Lebanon was not ready to do.

With a governmental and then a presidential vacancy available for them to change the subject from 2013 to 2017, Lebanese politicians kept procrastinating and procrastinating, sticking to their original draft laws, and then ultimately proposing a one man-one vote law, around a dozen of proportional -majoritarian-mixed draft laws, as well as a “qualification law”, entertaining us with a play where they would at times endorse proportional representation while their rivals vetoed it and then vice-versa.

We are often given an impression by Lebanese politicians of situations that require time for them to solve because of their complexity, but in truth, their electoral law strategy was very simple: To avoid proportional representation as much as possible, by any mean available, such as giving a sense of political instability (right before the 2013 parliamentary extension), or even creating a virtual red line that it was not possible to elect a parliament in the middle of a presidential vacancy (right before the 2014 parliamentary extension).

That strategy of extending the parliament’s term and postponing the electoral law discussions worked for four years, but Lebanese politicians needed a final solution that would be more permanent for them, and with the rise of the Aoun-Geagea alliance and the return of Michel Aoun and Saad Hariri to power in the autumn of 2016, that solution could no longer be a parliamentary extension and had to be an election, preferably under a new electoral law, so that the new ruling parties would be ultimately seen as reformers , covering up 9 years of bad policies.

And so another serious quest to find an electoral alternative began in January 2017, and with every party trying to pass the draft law that fits it most, a compromise was getting impossible to reach, until  MP Adwan of the Lebanese Forces finally brokered one. On Friday the 16th of June 2017, Lebanon’s parliament officially passed a new electoral law, that I will be calling the Adwan Law for two reasons: Because it bears the name of its creator, but because it is also in itself an agression (agression = Adwan in Arabic) on the idea of fair representation, bending proportionality with add-ons to suit the needs of the ruling class and making it easier for current politicians to stay in power. In proposing his parties-tailored proportionality rules, Adwan had solved a decade-old dilemma for Lebanese politicians who were under pressure to deliver a proportionality electoral law without actually wanting to pass one. And so, just like in 2008 when Lebanese politicians rushed to praise the 2008 electoral law as a step forward towards a fair representation (before quickly disowning it afterwards), mainstream Lebanese politicians are currently promoting the Adwan law as the best electoral law for the country. But be not fooled by the political celebratory gunfire, for the Adwan law is far from being an upgrade from the 2008 law.

So How Does The New Electoral Law Work Exactly?

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A map of the new electoral law constituencies, courtesy of The Daily Star

With terms still limited to four years, the country will now be divided into 15 major electoral districts, made up of 27 sub-districts with the 128 MPs divided among them.

Parties and groups will still put up a list of candidates from across the sects but as opposed to the old, winner-takes-all system, the new law will allocate seats proportionally across the lists.

Each voter will select one list of allied candidates as well as choosing one candidate from the list as their preferential vote. The percentage of votes a list receives will determine how many candidates on that list will win one of that districts designated seats in Parliament. Whichever individual candidates take these seats will in turn be determined by the number of preferential votes they receive.

The voter is not required to cast a preferential vote. If the voter chooses more than one candidate as their preferred option, no preferential vote will be counted for that voter. In this case, only the voter’s choice of overall list will be counted. If, conversely, a voter casts only a preferential vote and does not select a particular list of candidates, then the list the preferential vote was chosen from will be automatically assigned as their choice, as well as the preferential vote.

Lebanese nationals in the diaspora will now be able to vote at embassies, consulates or other locations designated by proper authorities, as long as these members of the diaspora are registered in the Lebanese civil registry and have a clear criminal record.

One hurdle that was widely discussed in the lead-up to the signing of the law was the proposal to reserve six parliamentary seats for the diaspora. The new electoral law stipulates that six seats will be allocated for expatriates, but this regulation will not go into effect during the upcoming parliamentary elections.

The diaspora seats will be divided between three Christians and three Muslims, according to Article 112 of the new electoral law.

(The Daily Star)

If you also wish to take a look at the entire law in Arabic, you can find it here.

Tailored Proportionality

1- Preferential voting and winning lists

At first sight, the electoral law seems like it is adopting mainstream proportional representation. Except it isn’t. The law separates Lebanon into 13 major constituencies that are made up from 27 minor ones (the administrative cazas). While Lebanese citizens vote for lists that can only run in the major constituencies, they can only cast one preferential vote in that list for a candidate that is running in his minor constituency, and candidates are ranked not by the number of preferential votes they get in the major constituency, but by the percentage of preferential votes they get in their minor constituency.

 

In theory, that system makes sure that all minor constituencies end up being represented, but in practice, that system of voting distorts the idea of proportional representation, and makes it look like a weird one-man-one-vote/majoritarian/proportionality hybrid, designed by our politicians to keep the status-quo.

A (not so) simple example: Let’s say the leading list in a constituency, List A, gets 40% of the vote of the vote in a major constituency made of 2 minor constituencies and 11 seats. The first minor constituency has 110000 voters and 3 seats, while the other one has 210000 voters and 8 seats. Let’s say the winning list gets 4 seats out of 11 (because it got 40% of the vote in the major constituency) and that in the first minor constituency, the preferential vote would be 40% for candidate A (44000 preferential votes), 30% for candidate B (33000 preferential vote), 30% for candidate C (33000 preferential votes), while in the second minor district, the preferential vote is more evenly distributed, with the four leading candidates there getting 22% of the preferential vote (46200 preferential votes). In the end, all of the three candidates that hail from the first minor district would be ranked higher than the other four candidates that hail from the second minor district (because the ranking is made by percentage, and 40%>30%>30%>22%), even though the candidates running in the first minor district had a lot less preferential votes. The three candidates that make it through for list A are all from the first minor constituency, although their allies that ran in the second minor constituency won more preferential votes. What makes things even worse is that list A could have probably been more popular in the second minor constituency, but because of the electoral system, more MPs made it in that list from the first minor constituency. Replace “first minor constituency” with Doniyeh and “second minor constituency” with Tripoli, and this scenario becomes a true story that coud happen in the next elections. It’s a scenario similarly applicable in all of Lebanon constituencies.

There will thus be a tendency for smaller minor constituencies to prevail in the winning lists, which would suit both Geagea and Bassil in the upcoming elections, since both hail from the smallest minor constituencies (Batroun and Bcharreh) in their major constituency (Batroun – Bcharreh – Koura – Zgharta), which would mean that a high percentage for Gebran Bassil and Sterida Geagea in the preferential vote in their small minor districts – something extremely plausible since Batrouni Aounis would overwhelmingly support Bassil and Bcharreh’s LF voters would do the same to Geagea – would put them at a higher ranking than any of the other candidates in their list, ensuring at list two seats for those two politicians in the upcoming elections.

When the leader of the FPM and the wife of the LF leader definitely get a seat via that electoral system – with or without an LF-FPM alliance – you start to understand why the LF-FPM alliance proposed and approved that law.

 

2- Preferential voting and losing lists

When it comes to losing lists, however, things change, and – plot twist – get even worse. Because every voter is only allowed to cast only one preferential vote, and because sectarianism is at the core of the Lebanese politics, the basic instinct of the voter will compel him to give the preferential vote to the candidate from his sect. Since Lebanese electoral rivalries have been historically been made between sectarian parties (the 2009 elections being no exception), this will mean that in major constituencies, the winning list is likely to be the one affiliated with the party that has the same sectarian identity as the religious majority of that constituency, while the highest ranked candidates in that list will be the ones that belong to that sect and that are the most extreme/outspoken in that list. For the losing list, probably affiliated with a party that has the same sectarian identity as the minority religion in that constituency, the seats would also be awarded to the most ranked candidates in that list, who would definitely be running for those minority-sect seats in that constituency. The winning MPs would eventually be the most sectarian ones in every list because of that one preferential vote, which is likely to maximize Lebanon’s problems after the elections, and lead to more sectarian speeches and taunting before the elections. The Adwan law, in its own way, makes sure that moderates do not make it to parliament, and if they happen to eventually make it by winning a certain percentage of the vote, they will always get the share of seats of the minor sects in that constituency, since the major sect’s seat in that constituency would be awarded at first to the winning list’s most ranked members, who are likely to be from that sect (even if the highest ranking candidate in the losing moderate / new party list is from the majority sect in that constituency, since all the seats for that sect would be taken by the winning list at first because its candidates that belong to the majority sect would be the highest ranking winners in it ) . And as long as the new parties / moderate parties that are trying to beat the mainstream parties do not control the mainstream parties’ main seats (of the sect of those parties), they will not truly threaten the influence of those parties, slowly pushing the new parties (with time) to become the representatives of the minor sect in that constituency instead of serving its original purpose to be a cross-sectarian opposition to the sectarian ruling parties. What makes it also difficult for some of the new small emerging parties is that some constituencies, such as Saida-Jezzine and Baabda, only have 5 and 6 seats,  which means that, by the rules of the Adwan law, they would need to get 20% of the vote to get a seat, a threshold that is high and that could have been lower if some major constituencies were joined together.

To give a small example

  1. With the 2008 law, the FM would have won all 11 seats of Beirut II.
  2. With a proportional representation that didn’t have only one preferential vote, the FM would have probably won 7 seats, with only 4 of the 6 Sunni seats won by the FM.
  3. With the Adwan electoral law, the FM wins all 6 Sunni seats of Beirut II (since the most ranked candidates in the FM list are likely to be the Sunni candidates) as well as another seat or two, and the other seats go to the losing lists that are eligible to get a seat.

In other words, blocs that are unfairly overrepresented in some constituencies because of the 2008 law, will become fairly represented, but extremely sectarian. in religiously mixed constituencies, the sectarian parties that historically used to win all the seats in that constituency (because of the winner-takes-all system in the 2000 and 2008 laws), will now primarily win their sect’s seat. That would result in political blocs purely made of MPs of the same sect. While the composition of the current parliamentary blocs is at first sight sectarian, several blocs are religiously mixed: The FM, primarily Sunni, has a dozen of Christian seats, the CAR bloc has a Shiite member and two Druze ones, while the PSP has more non-Druze than it has Druzes. Under the new Adwan law, it would become easier for parties to clinch the seats that correspond to the sect they represent in every constituency (even in the ones where they lose), instead of winning all the seats of a constituency and losing all the other seats in another. That would mean that Jumblatt would be giving up 2 to 3 Christian seats, but he will finally be able to get a hold on at least 7 Druze seats (in the current electoral format he only has 5 out of 8), making the new proportional law a risk worth taking for him, probably explaining why the PSP leader eventually approved that law: With the Adwan law, ALL sectarian leaders get a grip on most of their sects’ seats, even in constituencies where they would have probably gave another seat to another leader because that sect would’ve been a minority in that district.

So in the end, instead of promoting religiously diverse blocs, proportionality, as designed in the Adwan law, eventually makes it easier for sectarian warlords to get their sect’s seats everywhere, resulting in homogenous sectarian blocs in parliament (which is why almost all of the ruling parties git excited when they saw it). And what makes this process even easier is the fact that the law makes it possible for incomplete lists to run in the elections, making it possible for minor sectarian parties in a constituency to get the seats of their sect without having to campaign for a lot of candidates (for example, Jumblatt fields a list of only 4 of 6 possible candidates in Baabda, pushes his voters to give the preferential vote to the Druze candidate, and manages to get a little more than the bare minimum to win one seat,  a seat that would eventually be awarded to his highest ranked winner in his list, the Druze one)

That point, and that point alone, makes the Adwan law far more dangerous than the 2008 law: Close your eyes, and imagine in your mind Christian-supported lists running against Muslim-supported lists, the homogenous blocs resulting in parliament, and what happens next. So much for the pact of mutual coexistence…

Sectarian Redistricting

Speaking of mutual coexistence, Lebanese politicians should receive a medal in bad redistricting. They managed to split the major constituencies in the most sectarian way possible:

  • In the North, the four Christian cazas (Batroun, Bcharre, Zgharta, and Koura) were joined together, while the two Sunni ones (Tripoli and Doniyeh) were joined together, leaving Akkar, that has strong Christian minority but a lot of Sunni voters, all by itself.
  • In the Bekaa, the same constituencies of the 2008 law remained, with a Northern Baalbak-Hermel predominantly Shia, a central Zahle predominantly Christian, and a Southern West Bekaa-Rashaya predominantly Sunni.
  • In Mount Lebanon, the southernmost districts of Aley and Chouf, that almost have two-thirds of the Druze voters in Lebanon, were joined together, while the northernmost districts of Keserwan and Jbeil, predominantly Maronite (83% and 67%), were joined together. The Metn, predominantly Christian (93%) but not Maronite enough (43%) to be joined with the northern Keserwan-Jbeil, was left alone,  while Baabda, not Druze enough (17%) to be joined with the Chouf-Aley constituency (40% Druze),  and not Christian enough (52%) to be joined with the Metn (93% Christian), was also left alone.
  • In Beirut, our lawmakers – in denial and thinking that we still live in Lebanon’s 1975 Civil War – separated, in disgusting pride, the eastern part of the city (predominantly Christian), from its western part (predominantly Muslim), reinstating on paper a virtual green line that had been absent since the end of the Civil War in 1990. So much for mutual coexistence.
  • In the South, the predominantly Sunni city of Saida was separated from it caza and joined with the predominantly Christian Jezzine, while the rest of the Saida Caza (= Zahrani) as well as the Tyre caza, both predominantly Shia, were joined together, officially creating a major constituency that is predominantly non-Shia and another that is predominantly Shia. The cherry on the top? the caza of Jezzine and the city of Saida don’t even border one another. The only thing they have in common is that they’re both in the south and have less Shias than the other cazas.
  • In the Nabatiyeh governorate, Hasbaya-Marjeyoun, Nabatiyeh and Bint Jbeil all remained together. Can you guess why? They’re all mainly Shia.

Never in the modern history of Lebanon has the electoral redistricting been so sectarian. There have always been traces of sectarian constituency making, such as separating Achrafieh, Rmeil and Saifi from the rest of Beirut in the 2008 law, but the level of sectarian redistricting in the Adwan law is by far unprecedented.

The constituency map, that tries to separate Shias from Druze from Sunnis, Maronites from non-Maronites, and Christians from Muslims, serves one purpose: To make the process of getting sectarian homogenous political blocs – already facilitated by Adwan’s preferential vote in the minor constituencies (that was explained earlier) – even easier by reducing to 6 out of a possible 15 the number of highly religiously mixed constituencies: Akkar, Baabda, Chouf-Aley (which actually favors the PSP even though it remains religiously mixed), Jezzine-Saida, West Bekaa-Rachaya, and Zahle. For those 6 constituencies, the Adwan preferential vote system will do the trick of giving Christian parties the Christian seats they desire and the Muslim parties the Muslim seats they desire.

Finalizing the March 8 / March 14 shift

To understand the true goal of that electoral law would be to understand how the people who designed it think. Since the month of November 2015 (the month when Hariri decided to endorse the presidential candidacy of Frangieh), and till the month of October 2016 (the month Berri decided not to vote for Aoun in the presidential elections), through the month of January 2016 (the month Geagea decided to endorse Aoun), Lebanese politics had been slowly shifting from what was left of the 2005 March8/March14 divide to something far more dangerous: A Christian/Muslim divide. The closest electoral draft to the Adwan law is the 2012 March 8 – Mikati proposal, which is theoretically similar to the Adwan law, also based on proportionality, and boasting 13 constituencies instead of 15 major constituencies, but with two major differences: In the 2012 law, the constituencies were designed in a way that favored a March 8 win (Baabda is with the Metn to get Baabda’s Shia influence into the Metn, Tripoli is alone to maximize Mikati’s chances, and Jezzine and city of Saida are with the Zahrani and Tyre in order to get Tyre and Zahrani’s Shia influence to Saida and Jezzine) , while the preferential vote was not made and calculated in a minor constituency, but in the major one.

Lebanon's Electoral Map

Here’s a constituency map of the 2012 Mikati Law, of which the Adwan law is a variant. Note the redistricting that happened in the South, in Baabda-Metn, and in the North.

In fact, those two distinct features (the redistricting and minor constituency preferential vote) of the Adwan law were added to get sectarian homogenous blocs, something that wasn’t that much of a priority back then – winning a majority as a March8/March14 coalition was the top goal. Now that the cross-sectarian March 8 and March 14 coalitions that used to rule Lebanon in 2012 have all been broken up and that the new coalitions that are likely to compete in the upcoming elections are sectarian ones (with the assurances given by the Christian leaders that the FPM and the LF would run together, making it difficult to see how Hezbollah and the FM would fit in the lists together with their Christian allies and where that would leave Amal and the PSP), an electoral law tailored to give the FM the Sunni seats, the FPM and the LF the Christian seats, Amal and Hezbollah the Shia seats, and the PSP the Druze seats, seemed more appropriate. Which is how and why the Adwan law eventually saw the light and was the lucky draft electoral law to be approved by the Lebanese parliament.

Ans so with the Adwan law, a 12 year era of having Muslim and Christian parties compete together against other Muslim and Christian parties officially ends.

One Man One Vote vs Proportional Representation

Casting only one preferential vote in a list also means that the candidates within that list will try as much as possible to compete with their list allies instead of focusing how to beat the other list, shifting the campaign strategies from list vs list to candidate vs candidate. That electoral system thus becomes closer to a one man – one vote system, where candidates compete in constituencies similar to the 2008 law, (the minor constituencies are almost the same as the constituencies of the 2008/1960 law), with the number of seats per list being awarded on a major constituency basis.

So in other words, the new electoral law is basically a one man – one vote law, implemented on the 1960 law electoral map, with a pinch of proportional representation.

No Women’s Quota

A women quota of 40% would have forced Hezbollah to field women candidates in its lists in Nabatiyeh-Hasbaya-Marjeyoun-Bint Jbeil and Baalbak-Hermel, which would have put the party of God in a very uncomfortable situation (it’s the only major party in Lebanon that is yet to have a woman in parliament or in cabinet). Constituencies of Hezbollah influence were kept away from other constituencies, as Jezzine-Saida were separated from Tyre-Zahrani and Baabda wasn’t joined with the Metn, although the size of those constituencies justified joining them together (Baabda and Jezzine-Saida are the smallest two major constituencies), probably in exchange of not putting a quota for women in the new electoral law?

Continental Seats

Another problem for Hezbollah has always been the diaspora, that is rumored to be more friendly to its political rivals. Including the diaspora vote in the 15 constituencies would have made that process unpredictable for both Hezbollah, its allies and its rivals. So instead, Lebanon’s lawmakers saw that it was wiser to reserve 6 seats, each for every continent, for the diaspora, in the 2022 elections, postponing that potential problem 4 years, and reducing the influence of hundreds of thousands of potential voters to 6 seats, maximizing in the process the number of seats to 134 (something they have been dreaming of since 2013).  Smooth.

Insane Complexity = Parliamentary Extension

It has been always hypothesized that a secret clause of the Aoun-Hariri presidential-premiership deal in the Autumn of 2015 had a parliamentary extension clause, (1) evening a little bit Aoun’s 6 year term and Hariri’s 6 months term,  (2) giving time for Hariri, via his cabinet, to reestablish himself in his Sunni stronghold, (3) draining in the process, via protest fatigue, the rise of the new parties that grew out of the 2015 Hirak, and (4) letting the FPM-LF alliance become more acceptable for the Christian electorate still in relative shock with how two warlords that clashed with one another militarily and politically for three decades simply made peace to facilitate their domination of the Christian constituencies. That hypothesis became more plausible when Lebanese lawmakers added 11 more months to their already illegally doubled term while voting for the electoral law on the 16th of June. The law is so complex I just spent 12 pages trying to explain how it works. You have the proportionality, the major constituencies, the minor constituencies, the preferential vote, the sectarian quotas, and that’s just a part of it (here’s a list of other bad things regarding the Adwan law, such as issues of public spending, overseeing elections, and introducing magnetic cards, among other things) . The electoral law could have been reached by January, but there was obviously no will to do so, for a simple reason: vote on a complex electoral law at the last-minute and reap the benefit of adding the maximal number of months to the parliament’s term.

In fact, an electoral law as complex as the Adwan law was the Christmas gift that gave an alibi for the ruling Lebanese politicians to extend the current status quo (by extending the parliament’s term for 11 months), keeping Hariri for at least 11 more months in power, and turning the trash crisis as well as the presidential and governmental vacancies into distant memories for the Lebanese, also giving 11 months for the ruling parties to brace themselves and prepare for elections (those roads won’t pave themselves alone).

A Law Not Worth the 9 Years Wait

Mabrouk. It’s official: As of June 16, 2017, Lebanon has a new parliamentary electoral law. On paper, the Adwan law is all about proportional representation. But in reality, and because of the additional policies that were introduced for the one and only purpose of gerrymandering, it becomes closer to a one-man-one-vote-majoritarian system inspired by the 2008 (1960) law, than it is to the true essence of proportionality.

Only our genius Lebanese politicians can pull off something like that Frankenstein of an electoral law. They’re going to try to convince you that it’s an upgrade on the 2008 electoral law. And they would be partially correct: On the short-term, it has a pinch of proportional representation that would finally give an opportunity to new, small and moderate parties to make it to Nejmeh Square (emphasis on pinch). On the long-term, it’s a Civil-War-inducing upgrade that is likely to reorganize parliamentary blocs in a predictable sectarian way while keeping the ruling Zuamas on the same chairs they have been occupying for decades – more or less.

Nevertheless, cheers to a new beginning. At least we’re having elections – plot twist – in 11 months.

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A Fair Electoral Law For Lebanon

The proposed electoral map

 

Disclaimer: All the numbers used in the proposal are based on Lebanon’s 2013 electoral lists that I took from the awesome lebanonelectiondata.org website. The numbers could be a bit inaccurate (the government sometimes forgets to remove deceased electoral voters), but it’s the only thing I could have worked on right now.

Lebanon’s quest to find a fair electoral law has so far been a failure. Throughout the 1940s and the 1950s, the different Lebanese governments were accused of holding elections under gerrymandered laws that kept them in power. Parliamentary elections were known to be rigged in order to safeguard Bechara El-Khoury’s regime and promote Khoury’s reelection. Khoury eventually left power, but in 1957, a new electoral law resulted in the defeat of several of the opposition’s leaders throughout the republic, and the accusations of gerrymandering as well as the calls for a fair electoral law were among the main elements that led to the 1958 uprising. Another law was consensually adopted in 1960, but will go down in history as one of the indirect causes of the 1975 civil war. After the war, several electoral laws (1992, 1996, 2000) were adopted but their primary role was to keep a pro-Syrian majority in parliament. Lebanon eventually re-adopted a modified version of the 1960 electoral law in 2008, but it was considered to be outdated and unfair by many. Several attempts to find another consensual law failed, and the Lebanese political class, refusing to head to elections under the 2008 law while unable to find a fair or even consensual alternative, has successfully extended the current parliament term twice, in May 2013 and in November 2014. Beirut has recently been busy with anti-government protests, and as citizens take the streets and ask for reform, solutions for the trash crisis and early elections, the electoral law debate would eventually complicate any call for early elections.

Lebanon needs a fair electoral law now more than ever. This is why in this post, I’m going to talk about an electoral proposal that has not yet been mentioned nor discussed. The concept of the law is based on fairness, equal representation for all Lebanese citizens, equal representation for all regions, historical constituencies, safeguarding the current sectarian representation, and most importantly, a system automatically moving seats before every parliamentary election in order to stay updated and proportional to the number of registered voters in every constituency. I’m going to get into the detail of every aspect of this electoral proposal and try to explain it as much as possible.

  1. The General System: Proportionality

The main criticism of Lebanon’s previous electoral laws is that they weren’t representative. The current law (and many of the ones before it) adopted a majority system. This means that if a list of MPs got 35% of the votes while the two other lists got 32.5% each, the coalition that didn’t even get an absolute majority and that only got a 2.5% advantage over its rivals would get all the seats. To make things worse, some of the constituencies had/have a high number of seats (like Baalbak-Hermel with 10 seats under the 2008 law and Beirut with 19 seats under the 2000 law) and thus had a representation in parliament that wasn’t accurate at all. Since most Lebanese MPs now run in lists, the unfairness of the representation is often found in most of Lebanon. The proportional system solves this issue by allocating a number of seats for every list proportionally to the number of votes it got. Take Beirut III in 2009 for example. The March 14 coalition got around 79% of the votes but still managed to take all 10 seats. If the elections were held under proportional representation, they would have gotten 8 seats and left 2 for the March 8 alliance. The same could be said in the district of Keserwan, where the March 14 alliance got 44% of the votes yet ended up with 0 MPs out of 5. If the elections were held under proportional representation, they would have gotten 2 seats. That unfairness is found in most of the constituencies, and a much better representation could be achieved with proportional representation.

There’s another electoral proposal in Lebanon, known as the Fouad Boutros law in which you have small districts (the cazas) with majority representation (71 seats) and bigger ones (the muhafazas, that include the cazas) with proportional representation (57 seats). The problem with such mixed laws is that they could be misrepresentative towards the regions: A caza with an originally low number of seats (like Bcharre) could not give any seat to the muhafaza (like the North, for Bcharre) while another one with a bigger number of seats (Akkar, for example) could see many of its seats transferred to the muhafaza, which would mean in the end that Bcharre, already overrepresented, will be even more overrepresented  while the opposite would apply for Akkar. That was the case with mixed law proposals the Lebanese forces party  or even March 14 introduced in 2013. But it’s not only about being unfair to the regions: There is no clear/simple mechanism of how the seats would be allocated, and their distribution would hence be restricted to the government. In other words, political parties could move seats as they wish before every elections in order to control the results as much as possible, which would severely harm the democratic process. If the system was only based on proportional representation, there is a way, via a formula – explained afterwards – to divide the seats automatically without interference from political parties. Another problem with the mixed law is the ethical debate that would eventually come with it: Who is more legitimate in the Lebanese parliament, the member of the parliament that is elected by the caza under a majority system, or the member of the parliament that is elected by the muhafaza under a proportional representation system? The Constitution (via Article 27: A member of the Chamber shall represent the whole nation. No restriction or condition may be imposed upon his mandate by his electors) stipulates that every MP in parliament represents all the Lebanese people, which eventually means that all MPs are equal in their representation. But will it really be like that in parliament?

  1. Five Districts, The Historical Regions of Lebanon: No Gerrymandering and Better Representation

Now that we’ve established that proportional representation would provide the fairest representation for any multiple-seats constituency, the remaining dilemma would concern the size of the constituencies (in terms of number of MPs), and their geographical borders. Now this is the part where most of the political gerrymandering is made, which is why, and in the simplest way to avoid that, the best choice for an electoral map of Lebanon would be to choose the five historical regions as constituencies: the muhafaza of Beirut, the muhafaza of Mount-Lebanon, the Greater North (the muhafaza of the North and the muhafaza of Akkar), the Greater Bekaa (the muhafaza of the Bekaa and the muhafaza of Baalbak-Hermel) and the Greater South (the muhafaza of the South and the muhafaza of Nabatieh). One could easily say that the constituencies are too large, and that they are more or less similar to the ones that were established under the Syrian tutelage. But then again, there wasn’t proportional representation in the Syrian era, and it was the winner-takes-all system that made the results unfair. In fact for a proportional representation system, the bigger the constituency is (in term of voters), the more the results become accurate. For example, if a party gets 30% of the votes in three districts, each with 4 seats each, it will end up with 3 MPs (1.2 MP => 1 MP per district). But if the three districts are joined together, it becomes more representative and the party will get 30% of 12 MPs = 4 MPs.

So why not make Lebanon as one district (like the Israeli electoral system)? Because some entire regions might become underrepresented and others overrepresented: A simple example is that none of the Lebanese political parties has a leader or even high ranking officials hailing from the Bekaa, which would mean that the têtes de listes would be in their majority from other regions, and the Bekaa, that deserves around 21 MPs, might end up with 10. By keeping every historical region alone, one avoids the prospect of such unfairness without entering the realm of gerrymandering that smaller/different districts would open the door to.

And why not divide Lebanon into 128 districts (1 man – 1 vote) and forget about proportional representation? Imagine the amount of gerrymandering and inequality that our politicians could do while drawing up 128 districts. Another problem is sectarianism: Imagine a constituency that is 45% from the sect A and 55% from the sect B. We all know that on the long-term, A would eventually root for the politician who is endorsing their “rights”, and B would eventually support another politician speaking “in their name”. The idea of a fair electoral law is to end fear, represent everyone and build a society based on mutual trust, not create 128  civil wars instead of one.

And as it happens, the sizes of the districts in terms of registered voters are more or less good. Actually, the biggest three of them, Mount-Lebanon, the Greater North and the Greater South have a number of registered voters that is very close (around 800000). That is also a nice coincidence, because the biggest three of the five constituencies would be allocated a number of MPs that is either identical or extremely close (The different constituencies would be allocated a number of MPs proportional to the size of their registered voters). The details are explained below, but all in all, and according to the 2013 numbers, Mount-Lebanon, the Greater South and the Greater North would get 30 seats each, the Greater Bekaa would get 21 seats, and Greater Beirut would get 17 seats.

  1. A Fair and Flexible Law

Registered voters and populations tend to change from election to election, and a fair electoral law should adapt to those changes. Before every election, the number of registered voters would be crunched and the number of seats in every district would be allocated in a way that keeps the 128 seats represented in the fairest way possible: If a constituency sees an increase/decrease in the size of its registered voters, the number of seats representing it would change proportionally. For example, according to the 2008 electoral law, the constituencies that make up the Greater South only have a total of 23 seats, while the Greater South should be represented by 30. Beirut, on the other hand, should have 17 seats and is instead allocated 19 under the 2008 law. The list goes on. Not only does this unfairness automatically end with this electoral law proposal, it also ends forever.

  1. The Highest Christian Influence Since Taef

Now the very first thing any Lebanese would check in any electoral law is the influence the Christians would have after the elections, especially since it is mainly the Christian parties that keep asking to change the electoral law. They always consider themselves underrepresented and judge that they should have a bigger number of MPs. So I crunched the 2013 numbers (you could see for yourselves in the tables below) to see how many MPs the Christian registered voters would bring into parliament. It’s actually a very simple task: You multiply the percentage of Christian registered voters in every constituency by the number of seats automatically allocated to that constituency, and you sum up the numbers you get from the five constituencies. The result was shocking: One would think that bigger constituencies would lower the Christian influence, but it was in fact the opposite: The Christian registered voters bring in 48.5 MPs out of 128 into the parliament, which is actually very close to the proportion of Christian voters in Lebanon. And not only is this electoral proposal fair to both Christians and Muslims, it also provides the highest percentage of MPs elected by Christians since the 1972 elections: In fact, it is widely known that out of all the electoral laws used in Lebanon since 1992, the modified 1960 law (= 2008 law) brought in the maximum number of MPs elected by Christians: 47 (It’s a majority-based law so only districts where the electors are more than 50% Christians should be counted: 2 from Bcharre, 2 from Batroun, 3 from Zgharta, 3 from Koura, 3 from Jbeil, 5 from Keserwan, 8 from the Metn, 6 from Baabda, 5 from Beirut I, 3 from Jezzine, and 7 from Zahle). However, the Christian registered voters in both Zahle (57%) and Baabda (53%) are borderline / less than 60%, and within a couple of years, the Christians could become a minority in both districts: That’s a sudden drop of 13 MPs. Again, the Christians may or may not drop in numbers and with time they could get less influence with this electoral law proposal, but the drop of influence will be much more subtle under this law, and it would remain at all times proportional to their actual number of voters: if the Christian population drops from 53% to 49% in Baabda, it would mean a loss of 6 MPs under the current 2008 law, but under this law proposal, it would mean a loss of 0.3 MPs. So to sum things up, this electoral proposal does not only offer a higher and fairer Christian influence than the 2008 law (according to the 2013 numbers), it also provides a better representation for everyone on the long-term and makes sure that everyone would be equally represented.

  1. Do Not Panic: The Seats/Sect Allocation Would Remain The Same

Another thing any Lebanese would automatically check in any electoral law proposal is the number of MPs allocated to every sect. This is a very sensitive subject in Lebanon, and it’s by far the primary civil-war material anyone can think of. Perhaps an electoral law where seats aren’t allocated to sects would be the ideal alternative, but then again, we live in Lebanon, and currently keeping the status-quo regarding the sectarian distribution of seats is a requirement to keep all the Lebanese on board. The idea of an electoral law is to let the people know that they are free and safe, not threatened. This is why this electoral proposal – that safeguards the current seat/sect distribution for Lebanon – could be the perfect transition to a secular electoral law in the future. As I will prove afterwards, it forces sectarian parties to run together, gives a chance to smaller / secular ones to win some seats and eventually promotes bipartisanship in Lebanon while discouraging any kind of sectarian incitement. And in the meantime, all the sects will still have their same “sacred” share of seats.

  1. Automatic Seat-Allocating System

Now the main challenge I faced when designing the concept of this electoral proposal is that it would be very hard to know where to put every seat. For example, we know that Mount-Lebanon deserves 30 MPs (proportional to its registered voters), but how can we know what seats should be included in that district? Do we put 15 Maronite seats there, or 11, or 13? Without an automatic system, politicians could still influence the results by exchanging sect seats from a constituency with another in order to serve their interests and keep their parliamentary blocs as religiously-uniform as possible. This could open the door to another way of gerrymandering and beats the purpose of the law. That issue has bugged me for ages, until I found a way, via the formula below, to get a decimal number of the sect’s seats in every constituency, in the fairest way possible.

  • First, we calculate N. N is the number of seats in every constituency (after rounding up and making sure that the sum of Lebanon’s 5 Ns is 128 MPs).

N formula

click to enlarge. The Greater Bekaa's number of seats (yellow) is 21 and not 22 because while rounding up, I had to remove a seat ( in order to have a total of 128 seats for Lebanon) and the Greater Bekaa's N has the lowest decimal part above 0.50 (21.54<29.64<29.77<29.96)

click to enlarge. The Greater Bekaa’s number of seats (yellow) is 21 and not 22 because while rounding up, I had to remove a seat ( in order to have a total of 128 seats for Lebanon) and the Greater Bekaa’s N has the lowest decimal part above 0.50 (21.54<29.64<29.77<29.96)

  • By law, every sect in Lebanon is allocated a certain number of MPs. The trick here is to know how to divide them on the constituencies. So first, we have to find M. M is the number of seats every sect should have in a constituency: We find it by dividing the number of registered voters for that sect in the constituency by the number of registered voters for that sect in Lebanon and then multiplying that result by the number of seats that sect has (by law) in all of Lebanon.

M formula

Sect's registered voters in constituency Sect's registered voters in Lebanon

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Sect's registered voters in constituency Sect's registered voters in Lebanon Total MPs of sect in Lebanon

click to enlarge

  • So now we have the number of seats every sect should have in a constituency, but if we add all of the constituency’s seats, we might get a result that is more or less than N. We don’t want that (we want to keep all the constituencies equally represented), so we have to apply a cross-multiplication to make sure that the sum of all seats in that constituency is N. We thus find Z, the decimal number of seats every sect should have in every constituency.

Z formula small

click to enlarge

click to enlarge

Voila, the formula that solves Lebanon’s electoral dilemma:

Z formula expanded

And yes, again, this safeguards the current sectarian representation: 34 Maronite seats, 14 Greek Orthodox seats, 8 Greek Catholic seats, 5 Armenian Orthodox seats, 1 Armenian Catholic seat, 1 Christian minorities seat, 1 Protestant seat, 27 Sunni seats, 27 Shia seats, 8 Druze seats, and 2 Alawi seats. The number of seats and their allocation to the sects would remain the same, and all five constituencies will have an equal representation at all times. All in all, every citizen would have the same voting power (that has never happened in the entire history of Lebanon) and at the same time, the 50/50 Christian-Muslim power sharing agreement would remain unharmed. Everything the formula does can be summed up with the following sentence: Before every election, it automatically redistributes the seats for every sect in every constituency, proportionally to the number of the sect’s registered voters and the constituency’s registered voters in order to prevent politicians from redistributing the seats themselves in a way that suits their interests.

Now the problem with this formula is that it gives a decimal number of MPs, and sometimes a manual work would still be needed to make sure that no sect/constituency would be allocated (by rounding up) a smaller or bigger number of MPs (in the tables below for example, you could see that by rounding up, the Shia sect received 30 MPs instead of 27, while the Protestant one, which is not anywhere near 0.5% in any district, failed to get its only MP). This small task (That I experimentally tried to do, check the yellow/orange cells in the tables below) could be done by an independent electoral commission, and its work would just be to make sure that the representation is accurate for both the sects and the constituencies, the two main priorities being keeping an equal representation for all five constituencies, and keeping the specific number of seats/sect in order to preserve coexistence. The formula does 95% of the work, and the commission just rounds up/adds an MP there – removes another somewhere else in order to make sure that everything is in its correct place.

  1. Small Parties Will Never Be Forgotten Again

Another beautiful thing about that proposal is that the constituencies are big enough to have a number of seats large enough to let the smaller parties into parliament. Take a party A for example. Suppose that A has support between 5% and 20% in the cazas of Mount-Lebanon. Under our current law, A would never make it to parliament without alliances it perhaps doesn’t want to make with other parties. However, under this electoral proposal,  and with at least 12% support throughout Mount-Lebanon and a 5% or  even 10% election threshold (the specified minimum percentage of votes required within a particular district in order to obtain seats in the parliament), A would receive 12% of the 30 MPs. That’s 4 MPs for a small party that would have never thought of having representatives in Nejmeh square without giving something else in return to an electoral ally.

  1. Religiously-Mixed Coalitions and the End of Sectarian Incitement

But what makes this electoral proposal truly awesome are the electoral results. While the constituencies are too large to predict any winning side (without mentioning that proportional representation only complicates predictions), there is a major achievement. I’m going to take the Greater South as an example. In the Greater South, March 14 currently have 2 Sunni MPs from the whole constituency (Saida). However, under this electoral proposal, March 14 could get (random percentages) 10% of the Shia votes and 60% of the non-Shia ones. And since the non-Shia votes are 31% and the Shia ones are 69%, this would mean that March 14 could get 25% of the votes in the Greater South. That’s also 25% of the Shias MPs representing the Greater South. In other words, March 14 would receive 8 MPs for the Greater South, out of which at least the half are Shia. You would also have for example Sunni MPs in Beirut and the North loyal to March 8 (hint: They don’t exist in parliament right now). The Lebanese coalitions will all have MPs of all sects, representing all regions, in all of Lebanon. This is a huge yet very easy step to make towards ending party-based sectarianism.

Oh, and by the way, the Greater South is by far the least religiously-mixed district. Imagine what could happen in the mixed ones. Not one coalition would have a total control on a sect’s MPs, and not one party running alone could get a religiously homogeneous parliamentary bloc. This means that Lebanon would always have its rival coalitions (if they remain in power) heavily present in all regions via many seats. This law forces sectarian parties to ally to one another, and even if they make it to parliament, there is no guarantee that they will have religiously homogeneous blocs. With time, Lebanese parties will learn that sectarian incitement won’t get you anywhere with this electoral proposal, unlike with the current one (for example, in Keserwen that is 99% Maronite, you could have an advantage over your opponents if you only focus on Christian interests and ignore the national ones. Same thing could be said for Deniyeh, or Tyre for example, where one sect forms a majority of votes). However under this proposal, the constituencies are big enough so that not only coalitions become religiously heterogeneous, but that they also lose any interest in sectarian incitement.

And if things get ugly for example, and for some reason Lebanese politics become Christian vs Muslim, you can make sure that a number of Christian MPs will remain to be elected by Christians and Muslims, and that a number of Muslim MPs will also remain to be elected by Christians and Muslims . This electoral law becomes a safety button that defuses the tensions between Lebanon’s sects by bringing into the parliament a huge number of Christian-elected Muslim MPs and Muslim-elected Christian MPs.

  1. A Quota For Women

Only 4 out of 128 MPs in parliament are currently women, and a quota should definitely be introduced in order to boost their representation in parliament. Only then will our parliament be truly representative of the Lebanese, regardless of their region, sect or gender. All citizens should have an equal voting power, and all citizens should be fairly represented. It shouldn’t be very hard to add a quota to this electoral proposal, especially that it is based on proportional representation.

  1. Easy Voting Process for the expatriates

It would be very easy to vote and count the votes from abroad. No need for any bureaucratic attempts to hinder the Lebanese citizen’s right to vote everywhere: It should be very simple as there are only five constituencies, and they happen to be historical ones based on the administrative districts of Lebanon. The ballot boxes could be organized into 5 types, one for each constituency, and the votes would be eventually added up to the results of every constituency in Lebanon. The expatriate votes are thus far easier to include in this electoral proposal than most of the other electoral laws or draft laws. Other reforms could also include electronic voting.

  1. The Numbers That Prove That The Proposal is Fair and Totally Implementable

I tried in the following tables to apply the formula and see if it could work. In the last table, Yellow indicates that a seat was lost (in order to reach the theoretical total). Green means I did not have to modify the rounded up result of the decimal result (the total was the same number as the theoretical total). Orange means that rounding up removed seats for the sects, so I had to re-add them manually to reach the theoretical total. I started adjusting the Muslim seats, then put the Protestant, Armenian Catholic and Minorities seats in Beirut (They have the higher percentage there, and there were three vacant seats there after I adjusted the Muslim representation earlier). Till now, everything worked like charm, but there were still three Maronite seats to allocate, and the three districts that still had a vacant seat were Mount-Lebanon, the Greater North and the Greater South, so I added a Maronite seat in each of those districts. Technically, the seats of the Greater South and Mount-Lebanon should have went to Beirut and the Greater Bekaa (they have a greater decimal part), but that would have given the Bekaa and Beirut an extra MP and made them overrepresented, so I eventually decided to allocate them to the Greater North and Mount-Lebanon. After all, the two districts make up the Maronite heartland, this would have kept the representation as accurate as possible for all other sects, and most importantly, the two priorities were still respected: Equal representation for the five constituencies, and an unharmed total number of seats/sect in Lebanon. The independent commission’s work would have been to make that small decision. Not that hard, is it? Still better than a cabinet allocating seats the way it wants to.

Z rounded up

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Final seat distribution, according to the 2013 numbers

Final seat distribution, according to the 2013 numbers. click to enlarge

UPDATE

  1. A lot of the readers asked if the proposal uses preferential voting / open lists (you get to choose in the list what candidate you like the most and in the end, if a list gets 30%, the most liked 30% candidates on that list get the seats) or numbered lists / closed lists (which allows only active members, party officials, or consultants to determine the order of its candidates and gives the general voter no influence at all on the position of the candidates placed on the list). Both could work, preferential voting making the proposal/vote counting a bit more complicated but even more representative (hence the need for electronic voting).
  2. Another frequent question was about the distribution of seats mechanism for the winning/losing lists. I’ll make the explanation easier and take the Greater South as an example. There are 18 Shia seats, 3 Sunnis seats, 1 Druze seat, 5 Maronite seats, 2 Greek Catholic seats and a Greek Orthodox one. Theoretically, if a party gets 25%, it gets 25% of every “kind of seat”. You can’t divide a seat if there’s only one for every sect, so those go to the winning list (the Greek Orthodox and Druze seats in this case) and the losing list (or lists) compensates by getting more seats from the sect that has the biggest number of seats. This is why a losing list with 25% of the votes would get 25% of the 30 seats: 7.5 => 8 seats, probably 1 Maronite seat (25% of 5 is 1.25%), 1 Sunni seat (25% of 3 is 0.75) and 6 Shiite seats (since 25% of 18 is  4.5 => 5, and you add an MP in order to reach the theoretical total for the constituency which is 8). All that of course would depend on the smaller details of the Law, but that’s the big picture.
  3. Another inquiry was about the type of the lists. The lists should be complete in order to force the formation of trans-sectarian alliances, or at least so that the sectarian parties start endorsing candidates from other sects.
  4. Concerning lowering the voting age from 21 to 18, that’s not something an electoral law can change. It needs a constitutional amendment (Article 21: Every Lebanese citizen who has completed his twenty-first year is an elector provided he fulfills the conditions stated by the electoral law.)

Understanding Lebanon’s Electoral Demographics With 40 Maps

Electoral map of Lebanon according to the modified 1960 law of 2008

Electoral map of Lebanon according to the modified 1960 law of 2008

Lebanese like four things: Speculation, religion, percentages, and rankings. What is the fastest growing sect? In 25 years, what religious group will be the biggest? What religious groups are shrinking in size? Where? Every Lebanese citizen asked himself at least once these questions. Perhaps because of a trans-sectarian fear of becoming a minority, or perhaps because of simple curiosity. For a country with no census since 1932, the closest thing officially available and that is constantly updated is the electoral data. The Lebanese Association for Democratic Elections (LADE) created an amazing and extremely useful website, lebanonelectiondata.org where you’ll find visualizations on trends in voter registration by confession, gender, as well as white ballots cast and voter representation in parliament. The amount of information offered is too huge but it’s also extremely organized and simple.

All the following maps are taken from the website, and in case you’re interested to know the exact percentage for every district – the maps are based on the modified 1960 electoral law of 2008 – don’t hesitate to check their website (simply click on the district of your choice in the interactive map). And for those of you who prefer Excel tables instead of maps, you can find what you’re searching for here.

A- Confession Trends

a- Maronite

Maronite 2005-2009

Map 1: Maronite influence change between 2005 and 2009

Maronite 2009-2013

Map 2: Maronite influence change between 2009 and 2013

Maronite 2013-2014

Map 3: Maronite influence change between 2013 and 2014

b- Greek Orthodox

Greek Orthodox 2005-2009

Map 4: Greek Orthodox influence change between 2005 and 2009

Greek Orthodox 2009-2013

Map 5: Greek Orthodox influence change between 2009 and 2013

Greek Orthodox 2013-2014

Map 6: Greek Orthodox influence change between 2013 and 2014

c- Greek Catholic

Greek Catholic 2005-2009

Map 7: Greek Catholic influence change between 2005 and 2009

Greek Catholic 2009-2013

Map 8: Greek Catholic influence change between 2009 and 2013

Greek Catholic 2013-2014

Map 9: Greek Catholic influence change between 2013 and 2014

d- Armenian Orthodox

Armenian Orthodox 2005-2009

Map 10: Armenian Orthodox influence change between 2005 and 2009

Armenian Orthodox 2009-2013

Map 11: Armenian Orthodox influence change between 2009 and 2013

Armenian Orthodox 2013-2014

Map 12: Armenian Orthodox influence change between 2013 and 2014

e- Armenian Catholic

Armenian Catholic 2005-2009

Map 13: Armenian Catholic influence change between 2005 and 2009

Armenian Catholic 2009-2013

Map 14: Armenian Catholic influence change between 2009 and 2013

Armenian Catholic 2013-2014

Map 15: Armenian Catholic influence change between 2013 and 2014

 f- Protestant

Protestant 2005-2009

Map 16: Protestant influence change between 2005 and 2009

Protestant 2009-2013

Map 17: Protestant influence change between 2009 and 2013

Protestant 2013-2014

Map 18: Protestant influence change between 2013 and 2014

 g- Christian Minorities

Minorities 2005-2009

Map 19: Minorities influence change between 2005 and 2009

Minorities 2009-2013

Map 20: Minorities influence change between 2009 and 2013

Minorities 2013-2014

Map 21: Minorities influence change between 2013 and 2014

h- Sunni

Sunni 2005-2009

Map 22: Sunni influence change between 2005 and 2009

Sunni 2009-2013

Map 23: Sunni influence change between 2009 and 2013

Sunni 2013-2014

Map 24: Sunni influence change between 2013 and 2014

i- Shia

Shia 2005-2009

Map 25: Shia influence change between 2005 and 2009

Shia 2009-2013

Map 26: Shia influence change between 2009 and 2013

Shia 2013-2014

Map 27: Shia influence change between 2013 and 2014

j- Druze

Druze 2005-2009

Map 28: Druze influence change between 2005 and 2009

Druze 2009-2013

Map 29: Druze influence change between 2009 and2013

Druze 2013-2014

Map 30: Druze influence change between 2013 and 2014

k- Alawite

Alawite 2005-2009

Map 31: Alawite influence change between 2005 and 2009

Alawite 2009-2013

Map 32: Alawite influence change between 2009 and 2013

Alawite 2013-2014

Map 33: Alawite influence change between 2013 and 2014

B- Gender Trends

Gender Voter registration 2009

Map 34: Influence by gender based on the 2009 voter registration

Gender Voter Turnout 2009

Map 35: Influence by gender based on the vote turnout of 2009

Gender Voter registration 2013

Map 36: Influence by gender based on the 2013 Voter registration

Gender Voter registration 2014

Map 37: Influence by Gender based on the 2014 voter registration

C- Vote Power (Number of registered voters/Number of MPs)

Vote Power 2009

Map 38: Vote Power in 2009

Vote Power 2013

Map 39: Vote Power in 2013

Vote Power 2014

Map 40: Vote Power in 2014

Les Grandes Lignes

This is too much data to analyze, and basically every map can be reviewed on its own. However there are general observations common to most of the maps:

(1) Female voters are by far more influential than male voters. If you take a look at maps 34,35,36 and 37, you’ll hardly find any green. According to map 35, the only districts where  the men were the majority of voters in 2009 are Aley, Beirut, Tripoli, Saida, and Keserwan.

(2) Christian percentages are mainly dropping everywhere (maps 1→21). And even when the percentages of a certain Christian sect in a certain district is rising, it usually reflects a much bigger drop by another Christian sect. For example, the Maronite percentage in Koura is the only one that became more important (the green spot in map 2), but this is only because the Greek Orthodox percentage of Koura is dropping even more (maps 4 and 5). Another interesting fact is that the Greek Catholics are having higher percentages in the Christian heartland (Northern Mount-Lebanon and the Southern parts of the North) while their percentages are massively dropping everywhere else (maps 7, 8 and 9). It could indicate that some Greek Catholics are changing their place of registration (which is the hometown) from the mixed districts to the Christian heartland.

(3) On the Muslim side, there’s an interesting trend among Shias and Sunnis. If you look at the maps 23 and 26, you realize that the Sunnis are becoming more populous in the Shia-majority districts (Look how much the south is green in map 23) while the Shias are having higher percentages in the Sunni dominated districts (Take a look at Beirut, Saida, Zahle, West-Bekaa and the Chouf in map 26).

(4) If you check maps 38→40, you’ll notice that the districts that are the most underrepresented are the Muslim and rural ones (mainly Akkar and the South).

(5) So to sum things up, on the long run, most of the districts tend to become more religiously mixed. For example take a look at the Greek Orthodox in map 5. The Greek Orthodox are having lower percentages in their heavyweight districts like Akkar, Marjeyoun, Koura, Tripoli, Aley and Beirut. Their percentages are however rising in the other districts where they are barely present (especially in the Christian heartland).