Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The June 2009 Elections: Issues and Challenges

The April 8th deadline for the registration of candidates has been reached for the June 7th general elections and there are now exactly 60 days in until elections. To coincide with this important event The International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), The Carnegie Middle East Center (CMEC), The Lebanese Center for Policy Studies (LCPS) and the International Crisis Group (ICC) organized a workshop entitled “The June 2009 Elections: Issues and Challenges”.

Attending the workshop and giving the keynote address was H.E. Minister of Interior Ziyad Baroud. Minister Baroud noted that for the upcoming election, “simple [election] issues that are standard in other countries are being applied for the first time in Lebanon,” Baroud stated. Achievements such as the holding of the elections on one day, creation of the SCEC (Supervisory Commission on the Electoral Campaign) and the publication of the voter register are significant improvements, Baroud stated. The publication of the voter register for the first time resulted in 4.7 million visits to the Ministry of Interior website and 250,000 corrections to the register, according to Minister Baroud. Further to this, for the first time the list of candidates running in the elections will be made publically available. However, Baroud expressed disappointment at the overall electoral framework. “We wanted an ambitious democratic space but with the current electoral law this is not what we have and on the 8th of June our first mission will be [to create] a new electoral law…I am applying a [electoral] law I do not like,” Baroud stated. One aspect of the current law that Baroud expressed particular dislike to was the omission of an official universal ballot paper and the continued use of the pre-printed ballot. As for the electoral system as a whole Baroud stated that he wanted to see Lebanon use a proportional electoral system away from the current majoritarian system. Minister Baroud ended his speech on a high note stating that the registration of 702 candidates was a “great” and that the elections will “put the finger on the problems [of Lebanon]”.

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