Electoral Law Reform in Lebanon The Experience and Recommendations of the National Commission

The last parliamentary elections of 2005 in Lebanon following Syria’s military withdrawal were a great missed opportunity for the holding of elections away from foreign manipulation, intimidation, and bargaining practices. In the eighty years of electoral life in Lebanon, including in the Taif agreement of 1989, election reforms were very limited. Acknowledging this problem, the government of Fouad Siniora established a National Commission to undertake a national dialogue on electoral reform and propose a new electoral law. Civil society, led by a number of NGOs, played an active role in the process. On the eve of the outbreak of war with Israel, the new draft law was being reviewed by the Council of Ministers before its submission to Parliament’s vote. If adopted, the law would introduce major changes in political practices in Lebanon, including a women’s quota of 30%, the establishment of an Independent Electoral Commission, strict rules on campaign finance and media regulations. The law would constitute one of the most progressive electoral laws in the Arab world. However, the new domestic and international context resulting from the war will be decisive in determining the fate of the law.