SAWT BEIRUT INTERNATIONAL

| 28 October 2021, Thursday |

FPM: Holding parliamentary elections in March is unusual and reduces voter involvement

The Free Patriotic Movement’s political body issued a statement following its periodic meeting held electronically today, chaired by MP Gebran Bassil, stressing that “The initiative to hold parliamentary elections in March, rather than May 2022, is unusual and hard to implement due to a variety of circumstances and reasons, the most significant of which is the inability of moving around in mountainous areas due to rain, snow, and cold, especially given current fuel prices, as well as the difficulty of organizing election day and potential obstacles.”

“This limits the electoral campaigns and the participation of voters, and reduces the time needed to secure the requirements for the election of expatriates, not to mention the unconstitutionality of shortening the deadlines related to the disqualification regulations and the abolition of the right of thousands of eligible voters, unless some intend to reduce the participation rate deliberately,” the statement added.

It continued to indicate that holding the elections at an earlier date will also coincide with the Christians and Muslims’ fasting during the months of March and April, expressing wonder at the reasons behind exposing the electoral process to all these risks and defects, while it can be conducted in the month of May within the constitutional deadline and outside the months of fasting and holidays.

The FPM political council reminded that the electoral law currently in effect has consecrated the sixteenth constituency, which includes the six continents as a special constituency for expatriates to be represented in Parliament, as of the 2022 electoral round, whereby six deputies will be elected by the Lebanese Diaspora, without depriving expatriates the right to vote within their original constituencies if they so choose.

“FPM will do all that is necessary to prevent the circumstantial interests and vote-winning calculations that some envisage through abandoning this legal, constitutional and strategic right of expatriates, which cost years of joint struggle by both the Lebanese expatriates and residents,” the council pledged in its statement.

“The Free Patriotic Movement regrets that the parliamentary majority in the session of the joint committees canceled a basic reform approved by the election law, which is the magnetic card, with a clear tendency to prevent the establishment of mega-polling stations (megacenters), two reforms that would increase the percentage of voting and prevent any fraud or distortion of the electoral process,” the council statement went on, noting that megacenters also serve to increase liberty and transparency and reduce the impact of money and transportation costs.

“FPM asserts that it will continue to press for the re-installation of these reforms, in line with the content of the electoral law and the intention of the legislator when it was approved in 2017,” the statement concluded.