Proportional representation

In a clear illustration of the undemocratic nature of the first-past-the-post system as practiced in the US, the UK and Lebanon, the ‘opposition’ in this country has won only 57 out of 128 seats in parliament despite receiving 55% of the votes. As Dyab Abou Jahjah writes: ‘Despite losing the elections due to the non-proportionate electoral system, the Lebanese opposition won the popular vote by a large margin. From 1,495,000 votes casted 815,000 voted for the opposition while only 680,000 voted for the government parties of the 14 march coalition in a difference of almost 10 percent in favor of the opposition.Within the same frame, progressive Arab Nationalist candidates gathered in total 140,258 votes out of the total of 1,495,000 votes cast in the Lebanese elections. this is equal to 9.38 percent of the votes and had the system been a proportional system this would account for 12 seats in parliament, now they have won none. Changing the election law into a proportional one is the only way forward in Lebanon and should be the priority for the coming 4 years.’

As3ad Abu Khalil (Angry Arab) offers the following analysis: I am still waiting to see the full numbers of the Lebanese elections: we need a breakdown by polling places to analyze the voting behavior according to sect. I did examine yesterday the results of the election on the basis of all the electoral districts: and we can draw some conclusions because many districts have sectarian preponderance. Here are some conclusions. Hizbullah (not Amal) has the overwhelming support of Shi`ites in Lebanon. The level of support is as high as 90% to 93% overall (you can see that in pure Shi`ite districts like Nabatiyyah for example). In fact, we can conclude from Shi`ite voting in Jizzin that voters went for `Awn’s list and not the Amal list: showing you that Hizb controls the Shi`ite vote although Hizbullah needs Birri only for negotiation with other sects and with the outside world. Prince Muqrin and allegedly the US spent millions to prop up Ahmad Al-As`ad (the son of a Shi`ite za`im) and he could not even be a factor and he ran in Marji`yun only to get the March 14….Christian votes in that area. (And the few Shi`ite members of the Hariri bloc who are paraded before Western cameras and reporters all came in districts where non-Shi`ite voters determined the outcome: like Zahlah and Beirut 2 and Biqa`). We can also draw this conclusion about Sunnis: Hariri family has the overwhelming support of the Sunnis of Lebanon: Hizbullah has a hard time dealing with this fact, and accepting it. This partly explains why the results of the election were what they were. For example, the biggest surprise of the election was in the predominantly Christian area of Zahlah: but the results were swayed by the Sunni vote (and the huge turnout). Here is another facet: Sunni Hariri voters are more intense in their support for the group than Shi`ite voters–if you judge them by their voting turnout. But this could be rural-urban as urban voters voted more than rural voters. Sunni support for Hariri has increased in the last four years: the numbers speak for themselves. Hariri family does not enjoy the same level of support among Sunnis that Hizbullah enjoy among Shi`ites but it is very close. The most stunning shift for example was in Sidon. It is not that Usamah Sa`d (the secular Arab nationalist candidate) did not win: it is that he lost big and was only able to capture a mere 27% of the Sunni vote. Why is that important: because he (through his candidate `Abdur-Rahman Bizri) was able to win agaisnt Hariri family in the last municipal election during Rafiq Hariri’s lifetime (by the way, did you know that Rafiq Hariri died? Well, he did and his family and Prince Muqrin and not happy about that one bit.) So Sidon has had the most opposition to Hariri dominance and now Hariri has some 73% of the Sunni vote there. In Beirut, the Hariri family has more support: it is around 80 to 83% of all Sunnis there. In the Biqa` it is only a bit less: maybe 75% of so. In Tripoli it is more complicated: If Hariri did not join forces with his former rival, Najib Miqati, he would have been embarrassed with the results. Miqati is a billionaire and all billionaires get elected and become leaders in that lousy deformed homeland called Lebanon. So in Tripoli, Hariri’s support has dwindled to the advantage of Najib Miqati (and to a lesser extent, Muhammad Safadi–another billionaire–kid you not). But Hariri voters have intensity that is similar to the intensity of Hizbullah voters: i.e. they are obnoxiously obedient to their sectarian leaders in orders and commands regarding in how they should vote, even if they vote for people they don’t like (like Hizbullah Shi`ite voters voted for Hariri candidate, Nuhad Mashnuq in Beirut–according to a previous agreement between Hizbullah and Hariri–and Hariri voters voted for a Phalange candidate, Samir Sa`adah in Tripoli against a popular Christian candidate, Jean `Ubayd. Walid Jumblat has around 70 to 75% of the votes of Druzes, and that has not changed. But there is more dissent among the Druzes (partly familial and traditional relating to the historical split between the Yazbaki and Jumblati family confederations. Among the Christians, now there is a clear shift. Hizbullah has become a burden to its Christian allies. `Awn is too stubborn and has done things that are clearly not popular among Christian voters: his visit to Iran and Syria prior to the election is one example. The Christian propaganda against `Awn was very effective. Don’t get me wrong: they all do blatant or coded sectarian propaganda in Lebanon but nobody is more effective and blatant thant the Hariri family and the March 14 camp–i.e., those on the payroll of Prince Muqrin bin `Abdul-`Aziz. Just to tell you how much `Awn has lost support among Christians: in the 2005 election, the difference between any of his candidates and the losers was more than 10,000 votes. In this election, the difference between Gen. `Awn himself and the losing candidate Mansur Al-Bawn was a mere 1500 votes. That tells you something. What I found more stunning is Zghorta. Somebody told me that Sulayman Franjiyyah looked very subdued in victory. The reason is in the numbers. In the last election (which was on the basis of larger districts where Franjiyyah lost because Sunni voters determined the outcome of elections in the North), an analysis of the Zghorto district shows that Franjiyyah received three times more votes than those who lost, like Nayla Mu`awwad, who obtained something like 20% of votes in the district itself (and yet she won with Sunni votes in the larger district). In this election, the difference between Sulayman Franjiyyah and the first losing candidate, Mishel Mu`awwad, was a mere 3000 votes. This is very big for Zghorta. Real big. So `Awn and Franjiyyah will now have to adjust and that will make them less antagonistic toward their Sunni rivals. This will increase the sectarian tone of Lebanese politics especially among the Christians. One can also add that the attack on Patriarch Sfayr (one of the most sectarian politicians in the country, and the one with the most harmful poisonous effects in Angry Arab’s opinions although I do concede that he has a vast hat collection) by `Awn and Franjiyyyah hurt them with voters. So with all this, what can one say: the Sunni-Shi`ite conflict (instigated by orders of Prince Muqrin and initiated by Rafiq Hariri in full force in 2000) has reached dangerous levels of polarization. People say that Hizbullah is too dominant for the Sunnis to start anything but the conflict can take many forms and in different places: like between Amal and Hariri militias in Biqa` or between Hariri Salafite militias in Tripoli and `Alawaites. The high level of polarization between Sunnis and Shi`ites–as evidenced by the numbers in this election–clearly point in a direction of instability and further conflict.’

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