The Schism of Elections and Freedom

The new season and collection of political headlines is out in Lebanon, and this year’s theme is the electoral law. It is all we can read and hear about these days no matter where we turn; national TV, newspapers, facebook, twitter, bakeries, and even coffee shops. Let’s try to go through our different options together and objectively determine what law to support.

Law-Proposals

In case you are not familiar with the terms, simple majority means winner takes all while proportional representation means you get a seat if your support is just the right size (If small politicians do not support proportional representation then they are not small… they are micro). The above presents five proposals with coalitions, the government, and independent politicians pushing and shoving for one over the other. The only thing that is common, and that all our politicians practically agree on, is to keep the sectarian division. This means the Parliament is divided based on religious representation. Some politicians might claim one proposal is “more sectarian” than the other, but that is just because they will lose a couple of seats in Parliament, not because of their ideals.

The sad truth is that the politicians today are negotiating the results of the elections. They are simply re-dividing the seats among each other and negotiating the distribution of power in Lebanon. Most voters will continue to vote for the same leader they have been voting for during the past couple of decades. What we are looking at is a simple game of thrones between lords. The only difference is that we have more than 30 lords seeking the throne, and the Realm is one twelfth the size of New York State.

So to answer the question I posed in the beginning of the article on which electoral law to choose, my answer is none. I refuse to enter a selection process that is completely separated from the notion of freedom. I will not wait for the results of the brokered deal to know how free the electoral law will make me. I am free today by making my own choices based on my reason, emotions, and beliefs.

I choose to do what is right for me and for the people in my society. That is the electoral law I will support.

Cedric Choukeir is the regional director of the the World Youth Alliance in the Middle East and North Africa.