Proportional Representation Reflects Variety

By Elie Hourani
Published July 2nd 2004 in Daily Star Online

BEIRUT: Former Telecommunications Minister Issam Naaman said Friday that Lebanon should institute a proportional representation system.

In a news conference held at the Press Federation, he said the majority of reform-minded people in the country felt that political reforms needed "a fair electoral system that ensured adequate political representation."

Lebanese parliamentary elections are currently arranged as a winner-takes-all system where the holder of a majority of any vote gains a seat at Parliament. A proportional representation system would ensure that all political groups gain political representation in line with the public
support they enjoy.

Naaman said the proportional representation system was ideal for promoting competitiveness among various parties in large constituencies.

He said a political group could get a number of parliamentary seats
proportional to the percentage of votes it received at the polls, and among the advantages of a proportional representation system was that it
reflected a country's political variety as well as any changes in public
opinion. The system also ensures political representation for various
political and social groups.

"The proportional representation system ensures adequate representation in Parliament for small groups, which otherwise have no chance of reaching such representation through the conventional political system based on majority vote," Naaman said.

He added that the proportional representation system promotes competition among political groups rather than among individual candidates, ensuring that Lebanese parliamentary life would be reformed as well-organized parliamentary blocs would assert themselves.

Naaman said the proportional system also allows a wide variety in electoral tickets and makes it easier for women to stand for parliamentary seats.