New Electoral Law: Will Accountability Be The Key Factor?

Joumblatt Twitter

The electoral law agreed on, it became fundamental for Lebanese voters to prevent old political faces from making it to parliament again. In a country like Lebanon where accountability is far from being implemented, and out of 128 members of parliament, at least a hundred should not be elected again. Lebanese are in urgent need to restructure their legislative power and demand new governance reforms based on accountability and responsibility.       

Elected officials are accountable for political representativeness and for their political credibility and political competence while in office. Lack of accountability is when the rewards associated with certain behaviors or activities are completely disassociated from all the risks and responsibilities, this happens when money is involved.

A byproduct of accountability is trust, an effective one creates a mutual trust between the public and politicians, while a defective accountability allows politicians to get away with their actions giving citizens the feeling of being cheated. Add to that, some Lebanese politicians tailor accountability to their favor by manipulation and denigration, helped by journalists, collaborators, and their sidekick news outlets. It is politicians who are entrusted by the public through elections, therefore it is reasonable to conclude that the proliferation of accountability bodies responds to deficits in political accountability.

Consequently, new rules and laws should be considered that will ensure equal, transparent and democratic elections:

  1. Form a committee responsible for monitoring the campaign expenses of every candidate, verify the source of funding and set a spending limit applicable to all candidates.
  2. Impose equal media appearance for every aspiring member of parliament  
  3. Prohibition of arbitrary hanging of posters and effigies on the streets and buildings.
  4. Denounce any hate speech or allegations to the civil war and old stories with the sole purpose of gaining popularity by spreading fear of an opponent.
  5. Candidates should be affiliated to a party, movement or with clear independent status (not applicable in the new electoral law)
  6. Replacement of candidates’ delegates in voting rooms with unbiased electoral controllers whose role will be to ensure the correct conduct of the electoral process.
  7. Impose an accountability clause in every candidate’s manifesto that will hold him/her responsible if campaign commitments were not delivered.
  8. Grant equal exposure and right for every candidate to present his program.
  9. Dedicate a hotline number to report any bribery, intimidation or irregularity that could alter a voter’s choice.
  10. Prohibit local media from announcing results, assumptions on the outcome of elections or fake news on TV, social media and online news outlets; and hold non-conforming bodies accountable for such actions; and restrict the announcement of the official results exclusively to the Ministry of Interior.  

“Politicians have ample opportunity to manipulate the immediate contexts of their actions in such a way as to absolve themselves of any concrete responsibility. Accountability frequently becomes a catch-phrase more connected to the image of a politician than to any decisions he or she may have made or to results he or she might have produced” – Morlino L. (2004)

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