Sects entitled to vote for own MPs Ferzli

The Daily Star

BEIRUT: The Greek Orthodox Gathering called Tuesday for adopting an electoral law for the 2013 parliamentary elections that enables every sect to elect its MPs and adopts the entirety of Lebanon as one district, in a bid to ensure better representation for the Orthodox community.

Speaking during a news conference held by the gathering, former Deputy Speaker and a gathering member, Elie Ferzli, said that the current situation cannot continue, arguing that 35 out of the current 64 Christian MPs were brought to Parliament by non-Christian groups, in violation of the National Pact.

The electoral law, according to the gathering, should adopt a system of proportional representation but with a single district.

Ferzli said that such a law would “convert the chronic conflict between sects into a lively competition within them and eradicate the feeling of injustice and marginalization by sects and political groups.”

The law would enhance unity in the country, protect smaller communities from being dwarfed and simplify the electoral process, added Ferzli.

It would also open the way for the emergence of political factions from every sect that would forge alliances with political groups from other sects at the national level.

Ferzli argued that through decades following the independence of Lebanon, the Orthodox clergy and most of its prominent figures “rose above giving their national belonging any kind of sectarian label, and insisted instead on remaining outside the “societal sectarian construct, demanding instead that the confessional political system be abolished.” He said this led to the marginalization of the Orthodox, the country’s second largest Christian community.

“In the reality of political action, the Orthodox were everywhere as though they were nowhere in terms of presence, influence and national service, despite their big and valuable efforts in all fields,” Ferzli said.

“More often than not, they were the proxies of others, others to whom they owed their political existence.”

“I admit that we, as Orthodox, were wrong and we will remain to be so if we continue to entertain our illusions,” Ferzli explained.

The news conference, entitled “The Electoral Law: The Preamble and the Proposed Law,” was held at the gathering’s headquarters in Ashrafieh.

Members of the gathering say that its role is to achieve better representation in state institutions for the Orthodox.

Ferzli urged Maronite leaders, due to meet later this month under the auspices of Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai to discuss the electoral law, to endorse the gathering’s proposal.