CHANGES IN ELECTORAL LAW…

There are three main issues that many HUman Rights assciations and observers are trying to modify:

First one the right of foreigners married to Lebanese women and their children to get Lebanese nationality that so far they can’t get. The second, to print official ballots during elections. And third, which was refused today,  setting  the minimum age for voting from 21 to 18.

N.

Voting Age Bill Failed to Pass Parliament
A draft law to lower the voting age from 21 to 18 did not pass in Parliament on Monday after the House failed to secure a two-thirds majority.
Sixty-six MPs representing major parliamentary blocs such as PM Saad Hariri’s Mustaqbal Movement, Walid Jumblat’s Democratic Gathering, Michel Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement, The Lebanese Forces headed by Samir Geagea and Amin Gemayel’s Phalange Party abstained from voting.The 34 lawmakers who voted in favor of the bill included members of Jumblat’s Progressive Socialist Party, Hizbullah’s Loyalty to the Resistance bloc, Speaker Nabih Berri’s Development and Liberation bloc as well as MPs from the Syrian Social National Party and the Baath Party, in addition to MPs Mohammed Safadi, Tamam Salam, Nicola Fattoush, Omar Karami, Imad Hout and Qassem Abdulaziz.

MP Serge Torsarkisian alone voted against the bill.

Local media had predicted that the bill will be dropped not because of lack of quorum, but due to a large number of MPs who will refrain from voting.

Hariri as well as Christian political parties from both the majority and the opposition call for linking the draft law with other proposals –giving Lebanese expatriates the right to vote and allowing Lebanese citizenship by descent.

Meanwhile, youth activists held a sit-in in Riad Solh Square, demanding lowering the voting age to 18.  AP

Lebanon turns down bill to lower voting age

BEIRUT – Lebanon’s parliament on Monday shot down a bill to lower voting age from 21 to 18, a proposal which has sparked fears of an upheaval of the multi-confessional country’s power-sharing political structure.Only 34 out of Lebanon’s 128-strong parliament voted in favour of the bill, while 66 abstained and one voted against.

Lowering voting age to 18 has been an issue for years, with Muslim Shiite parties Hezbollah and Amal pushing for the measure as their young followers are believed to outnumber those of other confessions in Lebanon, which has not had an official census since 1932.

The controversial bill has sparked fears of a shake-up of Lebanon’s political structure, a complex power-sharing system between Christians and Muslims since the end of the 1975-1990 civil war.

Analysts estimate that lowering the voting age would add more than 50,000 Christians to the electorate, mainly Maronites, and about 175,000 Muslims, roughly equally split between Shiites and Sunnis.

Maronites, who are currently estimated at less than 30 percent of the four-million population, divide their loyalty between an alliance led by Sunni Prime Minister Saad Hariri and a Shiite Hezbollah-led coalition.

The winning alliance headed by Saad Hariri won 71 seats in the 128-member parliament in the election against 57 for the opposition led by Hezbollah.

The Hezbollah opposition had actually secured the majority (52%) of the votes in Lebanon, but could not secure a majority of Parliamentary seats (it won 45%) because of the nature of the sectarian government system in the country.

Seats in government and parliament were evenly divided between Muslims and Christians.

Experts say the Maronites today fear the voting age “reform” could be the first step towards demands for direct popular representation in Lebanon, which does not follow a “one person, one vote” formula. -AFP

Beirut, 22 Feb 10, 07:51

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Filed under Elections, English, Politics

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