Elections, Lebanon

PR to the People

Someone remarked recently on this blog that proportional representation (PR) is notoriously difficult to explain, particularly in a country like Lebanon that already has a kind of proportional quota system in place.

The Civil Campaign for Electoral Reform (CCER) has produced a great animated video that breaks down the proposed system and makes it pretty straightforward to understand. My only quibble with it is that it assumes that PR has to be a closed-list system, when it certainly does not. Have a look at the video below.

Another resource worth checking out is the Public Policy Forum for Electoral Reform and Proportional Representation, which has a bunch of videos here.



58 thoughts on “PR to the People

  1. Still sounds complicated to me, at least as much as the current system and probably even more. But what do I know? What’s wrong with elections by Congressional district, as in the U.S., where only one candidate can be elected in a given district. I guess this assumes dividing the country into 128 districts. I would advocate doing away with any confessional or other quota. This is the simplest system, no? as long, I guess, as the districting is done in a reasonable and fair manner. Clearly, a bicameral system, as I think has been advocated by QN, where such Congressional system is complemented with a Senate — which, in the case of Lebanon, could be, initially, based on Confessions to ease the transition to an eventual complete elimination of confessionalism. Maybe that’s too much change (?). On the other hand, it’s not clear to me that any other system would really be “fair.”

    Posted by Honest Patriot | June 16, 2012, 8:51 am
  2. I think people will always find occasion to complain about whatever system is in place. This PR debate seems to be one such thing.

    First, thanks for that Canada comparison cover photo.

    I think the sort of graphs one would see in the Lebanese context won’t change much because you do have very strong groupings: March 14, March 8. In the end, you’d end up with not drastically different graphs. The more political parties there are, the more it makes sense to have a PR type of system in place.

    Also (and perhaps this is what you meant by open vs closed), these people are proposing so many extra layers of complexity, by adding on this PR model:

    – Additional constraints on sectarian allotments
    – Constraints on gender allotments….

    Actually, you do need to be an Einstein to figure it all out.

    And in the end, the result may not be all that much more “fair”, which seems to be the current complaint about the system.

    Canada does not have a PR system and what we saw for many years is that the Right was split, and the Left had large majorities. And the reverse has now kicked in. This model is a little less “fair”, but it encourages parties to take a middle ground and work together.

    Posted by Gabriel | June 16, 2012, 9:05 am
  3. It looks like when a new thread is created, old threads no longer accept comments – still trying to figure out this new and improved website that still doesn’t allow editing after submission….

    Do you plan going to fight Hezbollah yourself or are you advocating a civil war in Lebanon?


    I’m not planning on fighting Hezbollah for the Lebanese. So I guess it depends on what the majority of the Lebanese want. The majority of the Lebanese on this website (except for say Lally, Hi Lally) despise HA. But that is probably not indicative of the nation. If the Lebanese don’t care about Hezbollah’s extra-nationalist position in Lebanon, then they’ll have to live with the consequences. Like you say, every nation “makes its bed and has to sleep in it”.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | June 16, 2012, 11:04 am
  4. Lally,

    Without using your favorite (and perhaps only) hebrew word “hasbara”, can you explain to us why so many muslims are risking life and limb to immigrate to the “Apartheid State” (aka, Zionist Entity, aka Israel)?


    Posted by Akbar Palace | June 16, 2012, 11:09 am
  5. AP..

    No I think Elias decided to nip the potential fireworks between me and AIG in the bud. Lol

    Posted by Gabriel | June 16, 2012, 11:23 am
  6. Correct.

    And I don’t believe you guys had the ability to edit comments in the old format either.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | June 16, 2012, 11:29 am
  7. This looks like it’s getting serious.


    Deeply ambivalent about such a move…

    Curious to hear about what everyone else thinks.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | June 16, 2012, 11:29 am
  8. Assuming Russia convinces Assad to step down and move into exile, who would most likely be the Russian candidate to take over a temporary government in Syria?

    I would imagine they would chose someone within the military.

    There must be Russian Tantawi in the Syrian army. Any clues who that may be?

    Posted by Monolith | June 16, 2012, 12:28 pm
  9. QN,

    If you get to have a black shadow outlining your posts … I want mine in blue!

    Sheyeh halak 3a min?

    Posted by Monolith | June 16, 2012, 12:35 pm
  10. Monolith,

    If I could figure out how to put a dunce cap on your posts, I would. But I can’t.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | June 16, 2012, 12:37 pm
  11. The “like” button would have now come in handy 🙂

    Posted by Monolith | June 16, 2012, 12:50 pm
  12. Hahaha. Monolith you’re a gem

    Posted by Gabriel | June 16, 2012, 12:58 pm
  13. Btw, maybe you can oblige mean old Elias and change your gravatar to a dunce cap. Who knew Elias could be such a

    Posted by Gabriel | June 16, 2012, 1:01 pm
  14. I’m changing nothing to nothing !

    He either gives me a blue post outline shadow … or I’m enrolling into his first class at Brown.

    Posted by Monolith | June 16, 2012, 1:12 pm
  15. And I’ll bring AIG along with me!

    Posted by Monolith | June 16, 2012, 1:18 pm
  16. HP,
    The single most important attraction of PR electoral laws is the almost assured representation of minorities. An excellent example is the Green Party in Germany. They did not only win representation that they might not have won otherwise but they even became the must have group to form a winning coalition.
    Yet I agree with you that a single candidate district, in my mind, leads to a more responsive governance since that will force the candidate to get to know her constituents. If Lebanon is to adopt a single candidate small district then and keep the number of MP’s at 128 then that means an average district would have 28,000 registered voters. Given a 60% turn out then the total votes cast would be as little as 17,000 i.e in a two candidate race the winner needs only 8500 votes . That is probably too small of a district which means that it would be a good idea to cut the number of MP’s in half to 64. This has an added benefit, save the relatively high salaries and percs for these officials. The main reason besides accountability that I associate with majoritarian voting is the character, and ideas of the individual candidate. These attributes become much less important in a PR campaign whereby the well organized and disciplined parties can run anyone on their lists and get them elected. I am afraid that would be the case in Lebanon.
    Ultimately, though, and the sooner the better, we have to get rid of the sectarian allocation totally up to and including speaker, PM and President.

    Posted by ghassan karam | June 16, 2012, 1:52 pm
  17. If Lebanon want to stay with this system i wonder if it will be better to have each religious group vote for their own so others will not affect the their choice, so if the parliament has to have 50% Christians let the Christians only vote for their own representative and if the president has to be Christians let the Christians in the country vote for him and so on, this way it will be difficult to impose a personality that is more acceptable to others if not liked by his own, i prefer a whole new system with districts, and an American system.

    Posted by Norman | June 16, 2012, 2:06 pm
  18. The single most important attraction of PR electoral laws is the almost assured representation of minorities.

    … or looked at differently, an almost assured entrenchment of confessional/sectarian political structures (in a place like Lebanon that is defined by its minorities).

    Posted by Gabriel | June 16, 2012, 2:33 pm
  19. Why was the last Thread closed?

    Where’s the summary?

    ///Press Release///

    Young Lex Luthor replies to Grendizer:

    “Kryptonite is not working on Batman”.

    “I am working on a Giant “Laser” beam that will get rid off “Hezbollah” from Space”, the young Maverick exposed. “There’s just no other way”, he concluded.

    Posted by Monolith | June 16, 2012, 2:37 pm
  20. http://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorialopinion/article/1212375–the-end-of-the-arab-spring-in-egypt

    More alarmism on the Egyptian story. Apparently, deeply religious, “hijab-wearing” dean of Applied Sciences @ UB would prefer having Hosni Mubarak-lite, because she too is afraid of the big bad wolf.

    And Elias is worried that America seems more openly arming the Syrian opposition.

    Ya Khaye, don’t worry. In the end, after the theatrics are done… we’ll end up with who we’re supposed to end up with.

    Posted by Gabriel | June 16, 2012, 3:32 pm
  21. A change of the electoral system is ill conceived under the current sectarian system. Those who advocate this should agree to rid themselves of the sectarian system and then move forward with this. Off course all “other” matters ; such as the small matter of a terrorist entity running a state within a state has to be addressed as well…Other militias; guns; etc..etc…
    Gabriel, Ontario had a referendum on ” mixed member proportional representation” in 2007 but was rejected soundly. The system works because the state is built on laws and a charter of freedom and rights. No system can function in Lebanon effectively in the presence of Mafioso dictating everything.

    Posted by danny | June 17, 2012, 7:49 am
  22. Qifa Nabki,

    How do you think elections and campaigns should be financed, since all types of electoral systems, everywhere, are vulnerable to being undermined by money, and violence?

    Thanks for the CCER link.

    j anthony

    Posted by j anthony | June 17, 2012, 9:40 am
  23. Danny,

    Precisely (?). I think (?) we see eye to eye on this. One thing that is rather evident from the Canadian example, as the Harper government crept from minority government to a majority- despite not having the sort of majority popular support, is that at the end of the day, the Liberals didn’t go home and pout. Iggy took responsibility for his failures, etc.

    Discussions about Electoral reform and what have you are good to have when there is a transparent and honest discussion about having those changes. A process of self-assessment and self-improvement. Ontario- as did Quebec- did discuss and bring up these issues of PR.

    But when the discussion happens under the guise of explosive political contexts, (e.g. Florida recount, or the Lebanese context of PR, re-drawing districts, allowing expats to vote, etc)… then it is nothing but time wasting.

    Today they redraw the district and give PR because X and Y think it is more “Fair”. Tomorrow, if there are on-the-ground changes that are not suitable for Pouty politician A, and other changes not suitable for Pouty politician B… then we will be back here again discussing about whether this is fair, or that is fair.

    Put a system in place. Have some transparency and a sincere show that it is more or less representative. Put Laws in place. Charters of Rights. And fine, every few years fine tune, make minor adjustments.

    The problem in Lebanon today is not whether Aoun could have gotten 3 more seats here, or Geagea could have gotten 2 more seats there. They are deeper and more profound.

    Posted by Gabriel | June 17, 2012, 12:39 pm
  24. (… and yes, the sectarian allotments have to be removed as a pre-condition).

    Posted by Gabriel | June 17, 2012, 12:42 pm
  25. Political campaigns and elections can be financed by party memberships, donation from Lebanese living in Lebanon using money in Lebanese bank accounts, Lebanese outside the country can not vote or donate money for political campaigns or entities.

    Posted by Norman | June 17, 2012, 6:45 pm
  26. To all those inconvenienced by the protests around the Beirut International Airport (Aka Rafiq Hariri International Airport) today, please note:

    Iran Air flies on Mondays and Wednesdays and it will be preferable to book around these days of the week to ensure burden free arrival to the airport for departure.

    ///End of notification///

    Posted by Monolith | June 18, 2012, 5:50 pm
  27. With every passing week that these 11 Shi’ite pilgrims remain in captivity in Syria, SHN’s prestige amongst the devout Shi’ite community will diminish.

    He can unleash hell on Israel should they dare harm the hair of any Shi’ite on Lebanese soil … or elsewhere.

    But in Syria … he’s Mickey Mouse.

    Posted by Monolith | June 18, 2012, 6:03 pm
  28. Let’s see SHN and his Hezb Commandos do a raid on Entebbe in Syria to save them.

    Posted by Monolith | June 18, 2012, 6:09 pm
  29. God forbid the Lebanese Army would ever attempt such a bold and daring rescue of Lebanese citizens on Syrian soil.

    Posted by Monolith | June 18, 2012, 6:15 pm
  30. Drone Warrior Alert

    Anybody here concerned about the Russian marines landing in Tartous?


    Posted by Akbar Palace | June 18, 2012, 7:57 pm
  31. “God forbid the Lebanese Army would ever attempt such a bold and daring rescue of Lebanese citizens on Syrian soil.”

    The problem is life insurance. Who is going to take care of the families of the soldiers if they die in the rescue?

    The other problem is of people who never went to the army expecting the people in the army to take big risks for them. I think your best bet is to explain to the kidnappers about peace, tolerance and co-existence. That always works.

    Posted by AIG | June 18, 2012, 10:56 pm
  32. If they were kidnapped in Turkey, the Turkish embassy would have been besieged.

    Why don’t they protest outside the Syrian embassy?

    Posted by Monolith | June 19, 2012, 4:04 am
  33. What do you mean “they”? Aren’t “they” Lebanese citizens? Why are you not protesting in front of the Syrian embassy? And if you don’t care about “them”, you might as well partition Lebanon.

    Posted by AIG | June 19, 2012, 9:34 am
  34. AIG, while things are slow, and we don’t risk inviting the wrath of Elias…

    I’m just curious… how old are you?

    Posted by Gabriel | June 19, 2012, 1:26 pm
  35. What you want to call people that block the airport road with burning tires and charge their “compatriots” $10 to give them a lift on a scooter for the final one kilometer leg to it, is up to you.

    I call “them” scumbags.

    Posted by Monolith | June 19, 2012, 1:34 pm
  36. How are the hostages charging you money from Aleppo? Are they using a new kind of Lebanese electronic payment system? Whatever someone is charging you on the airport road, that is not an excuse to not care about Lebanese hostages in Aleppo.

    Posted by AIG | June 19, 2012, 2:47 pm
  37. Businessmen creating their own niche and filling it.

    Posted by lally | June 19, 2012, 2:52 pm
  38. What exactly is behind the “symbolism” of blocking the airport to protest for the release of the Pilgrims in Syria?

    1) Is it because the airport road is the gateway to the world and they want the world to hear of their plight?

    **If so, psssst, their “world” is Iran, Russia, China and Syria and I suggest they block the roads two hours before these flights take off **

    2) Is it because they are pissed off at air travelers cause they had to take the bus back from Iran?

    3) Is it the welcoming comity awaiting Terry Waite’s arrival to negotiate their release?

    4) The families happen to live just across the street and it’s … convenient to do it over there.

    Posted by Monolith | June 19, 2012, 3:36 pm
  39. If my family were held hostage and my country did nothing about it, I would demonstrate wherever it would get the most attention. If they would have demonstrated in front of the Syrian embassy, you would not even be thinking about the hostages. Not that you would ever actually do something, but at least you are thinking about the issue. You have 11 Lebanese held hostage and you seem to think the problem to deal with is the blocking of the airport road. If 10,000 Lebanese were demonstrating with the families in front of the Syrian embassy, they would not be on the airport road. But you know, they are getting the feeling that their country does not give a shit about them.

    Posted by AIG | June 19, 2012, 3:52 pm
  40. That is not a feeling but a “fact” that SHN has “drilled” into the mind of Lebanese society loudly just recently.

    If my family was held hostage somewhere in Syria, I’d be risking my life trying to personally get in touch with their abductors in Syria and assure them that I am atheist and that so is my family and that I am ready for anything they need for us to come to reasonable compromise to see my family back home.

    Posted by Monolith | June 19, 2012, 4:05 pm
  41. Yes, there is nothing more that Islamists love than atheists. You would have great success. How about sending them a letter covered with hearts?

    It really does not matter what Nasrallah says, what matters is what you feel. And if you don’t give a shit about them, then you should partition Lebanon. It is meaningless as a country anyway then. If there isn’t some basic solidarity most people feel for each other as citizens, then the country does not really exist.

    Posted by AIG | June 19, 2012, 4:31 pm
  42. Gabe,

    AIG is retired.

    In his 60’s.

    He is a grandfather.

    Posted by Monolith | June 19, 2012, 4:32 pm
  43. I agree.

    Posted by Monolith | June 19, 2012, 4:35 pm
  44. What do hearts have to do with Atheism?

    If at all, we’re heartless, cold, calculated and Darwinian.

    Posted by Monolith | June 19, 2012, 4:41 pm
  45. What does it mean that you call yourself Lebanese if you don’t care about the 11 hostages?

    Posted by AIG | June 19, 2012, 5:02 pm
  46. AIG-

    You have a lot of opinions. What are you on about?

    Who are these hostages? Who took them? How does standing in front of the Syrian embassy help? Did Assad abduct them? How about the Syrian “opposition”, did “they” abduct them? “Who” in the Syrian opposition abducted them? And what’s the Lebanese government going to do about it? What can they do about it?

    Has Israel been successful previously in freeing all their hostages that were abducted?

    Should the Lebanese go fight against Assad to help the Opposition he is butchering?

    Or should the Lebanese go help “them”, their “compatriots they care about”, by giving the Opposition a good beating for abducting them in the first place?

    You seem very confused in your expectations of us.

    Posted by Gabriel | June 19, 2012, 5:14 pm
  47. You mean pilgrims.

    I think religious pilgrims should set up and make a life for themselves around the shrines they worship.

    Nothing too hardcore of the sort here in Lebanon. We have Jeita, Crusader castle ruins. Greek, Roman and even Pharaonic relics and good hummus and tabbouleh and polluted beaches.

    Posted by Monolith | June 19, 2012, 5:15 pm
  48. That a good idea, all the Muslims from Lebanon that go to Mecca should stay there, Haj Monolith.

    Posted by AIG | June 19, 2012, 5:19 pm
  49. Gabriel, you should do nothing as usual. You really do not need any excuses for that. It is really boring debating with you because all you do is give excuses for doing nothing. I get it, whatever happens, there is a reason not to do anything and it is related to life insurance.

    Posted by AIG | June 19, 2012, 5:26 pm
  50. Noooo … I think it’s a better idea that every religious nut franchises his religion across his community around the world at more competitive prices to guarantee membership fees and provide a sense of belonging and meaning to their lives.

    Posted by Monolith | June 19, 2012, 5:37 pm
  51. Help me understand your proposal, what do you suggest the Sunnis in Lebanon do for example?

    Posted by AIG | June 19, 2012, 5:41 pm
  52. For starters, assume full responsibility for the +60billion debt hole they sunk the country into.

    If they were gambling on some sort of Saudi-American bailout, the rest of us are waiting.

    Posted by Monolith | June 19, 2012, 5:50 pm
  53. AIG:

    I don’t give excuses for doing nothing! I simply suggest people should not do bad things! I think it’s this suggestion that seems to have you up in arms and upset 😉

    Posted by Gabriel | June 19, 2012, 6:29 pm
  54. “they sunk the country into”

    It is always “they” with you, not “us”. That is 99% of the problem with Lebanon.

    Posted by AIG | June 19, 2012, 6:53 pm
  55. “I don’t give excuses for doing nothing! I simply suggest people should not do bad things!”

    You don’t read your own posts do you? All you do is give excuses why you can’t or won’t do this or that. Just check your post above trying to excuse why there is nothing you should do about the hostages or about the massacres. And that is only one example.

    Oh yes, you also suggest people not do bad things. That is a great suggestion, why don’t you write a book about this brilliant insight of yours?

    Posted by AIG | June 19, 2012, 6:59 pm
  56. I just may collect all my writings here and throw them into a book! LoL

    Posted by Gabriel | June 19, 2012, 7:12 pm
  57. I guess what I don’t understand, it why the Drone Warrior is looking so weak…


    Posted by Akbar Palace | June 19, 2012, 7:41 pm
  58. Hi, I think a mixed-member system that used only a large number of 4-seat super-districts might be an interesting alternative….

    With a 3-seat LR Hare election and an IRV election per super-district then elections would be very local and everyone would get the exact same election rule, unlike many PR systems that have variable number of seats contested from district to district.

    The first 3-seats can be explained easily. There’d be one candidate per party and one vote per voter. The typical outcome would be for the top 3 vote-getting candidates to win one seat each. But if the top candidate beats the third place candidate by more than one-third of the vote then (s)he’d win two seats and get to pick a vice-candidate to hold the second seat. (It’d be very unlikely for the top candidate to beat the 2nd place candidate by more than 2-thirds of the vote in which case (s)he’d win three seats and get to pick two vice-candidates to hold the other two seats. )

    The fourth seat can be explained easily: Every voter gets to rank up to three candidates. The first round counts the number of times each candidate is ranked. Only the 3 candidates who were ranked the most advance to the second round. In the second round, there is an instant runoff based on voter preferences for the three finalists.

    Posted by dlw | August 14, 2012, 11:20 pm

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