Democratization & Public Accountabillity

Civil Campaign for Electoral Reform

In Lebanon, the parliamentary elections that took place following the end of the civil war were neither fair nor transparent nor did they hold the politicians accountable. By becoming unaccountable to the people, a detachment between the latter and the politicians became obvious. This state of affairs led also to a massive increase in corruption, decrease in living standards, and limitation of freedom of speech.

Electoral Reform has always been one of LTA's top priorities, which had launched its electoral activities in May 2005 to cover the period before, during and after the parliamentary elections that were scheduled for May-June 2005.

Series of Roundtables on accountability, campaign financing and media related to the parliamentary elections were organized. At the same time, LTA launched a media campaign on TVs, billboards and radio stations that sought to raise awareness on the rights and duties of citizens in the electoral process. LTA was also a founding member of the ''Lebanese Coalition for Elections monitoring'' (CLOE) which was hosted by the Lebanese Association for Democratic Elections (LADE).

While the 2005 elections were largely free of direct intimidation, the deception that resulted from these elections was attributed to the electoral law (the same law that was used in 2000). Financial intimidation was used in many districts to affect the preferences of the voters and to insure high turnout. More importantly however, the 2000-2005 law discriminated in gerrymandering and prevented large swaths of the population from making their voices heard.

The size of electoral districts varied from one region to another, thus reinforcing the sentiment of misrepresentation. Many previously unknown candidates benefited from the support of strong parties or politicians to win seats in the new parliament.

The Civil Campaign for Electoral Reform

After the Parliamentary elections of Summer 2005, Prime Minister Fouad Siniora set up an independent commission on August 8th, 2005 which was headed by ex-Minister Fouad Butros to suggest a new electoral law for Lebanon.

The establishment of the National Commission for the Electoral Law, which comprised of experts in political science, lawyers, and civil society activists, set a new precedent for reforms in the country and marked a departure from past practices of a last-minute election law compromise driven by parochial interests.

The Commission suggested a draft electoral law in May 2006. The draft law represented a comprehensive reform of the electoral system.
Specifically, it provided for:

• A mixed electoral system with proportional representation introduced in parallel to the majority system with dual districting;
• An independent electoral commission to oversee the elections;
• Out-of-country voting;
• Regulation of campaign spending;
• Regulation of Media coverage of election campaigns;
• Lowering the voting age from 21 to 18 years;
• Voting from the place of residence;
• Holding the entire national elections on one day;
• Encouraging women candidacy by introducing a women's quota on candidates' lists; and
• Acknowledging the special needs of voters with disabilities.

Following the release of the draft law, LTA and the Lebanese Center for Policy Studies (LCPS), in close collaboration with LADE, formed the Civil Campaign for Electoral Reform (CCER).
CCER seeks to:

• Initiate among major stakeholders (including MPs, Cabinet, community leaders, and others) immediate, open, non-partisan, public examination of the draft law
• Generate public debate around the draft law
• Secure passage of the reform elements of the draft law

A national media campaign was launched in March 2007 to lobby for electoral reform, as well as a guide to the draft electoral law, which was distributed to the public during grassroots events and workshops.

All LTA Electoral Reforms activities will be implemented in the Framework of the CCER.

Civil Campaign For Electoral Reform: