Hoss: Qada-based elections 'will destroy national unity'

By Therese Sfeir
Published April 25th 2005 in The Daily Star

Former Prime Minister Salim Hoss strongly rejected the electoral law based on the qada (small-district system) saying he believed it would destroy national cohesion in Lebanon.

He reiterated his support for the mohafaza (large-district system) and urged the new Cabinet to lower the voting age to 18 years.

During a news conference held at the Press Federation headquarters Sunday, the former premier explained the system of proportional representation and outlined the negative repercussions he believes will result from the adoption of the qada.

Speaking on behalf of the National Unity Voice or the Third Force, Hoss said: "We strongly reject the electoral law referred to Parliament and call for the adoption of an electoral law based on the mohafaza and proportional representation."

"The electoral law based on the qada system will destroy Lebanese national unity."

According to Hoss, the Taif Accord had opted for an electoral law based on the mohafaza in an effort to overcome sectarianism, stressing the need to combat division within the country.

Hoss said he had hoped the electoral law would be based on one large electoral district encompassing the whole country but has agreed on an electoral law based on the mohafaza as stipulated in the Taif Accord.

The former Prime Minister also said: "Delaying the elections and adopting the mohafaza is better than adopting the qada system and having to face a sectarian Parliament that would threaten the safety of our national cohesion."

According to Hoss, the voting procedure in the proportional system is simpler than that of the small-district system as it only requires the voter to choose from one list of candidates, as opposed to several under the qada system.

The former premier also urged the new government to lower the voting age from 21 to 18 years, saying, "We urge the Cabinet and Parliament to lower the voting age from 21 to 18 years to give younger adults the right to choose the people's representatives."