Lebanese court declines limit on diaspora representatives in blow to establishment parties
The Christian Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), led by MP Gebran Bassil, launched an appeal to limit expat votes to six seats in the parliament. Doing so would create exclusive representatives for expats, Bassil had earlier argued.
The Constitutional Council reportedly could not reach a consensus on the appeal, and the ten-member body did not reach the necessary seven votes to allow the appeal to be upheld.
Lebanon’s expatriate population registered for the upcoming election in record numbers, with over 244,000 voters signing up. With just two million voters in the last election cycle, expats represent a huge voting bloc.
Lebanese President Michel Aoun, Bassil’s father-in-law and founder of the FPM party, has repeatedly said that elections would be pushed until May from its currently scheduled date of 27 March. The powerful Shiite political groups, Hezbollah and the Amal movement, have insisted on holding elections on its scheduled date.
Despite forming a government in September after nearly a year without, Lebanon’s political class is once again mired in gridlock. Its cabinet has not held a meeting in two months over disagreements over the investigation into the Beirut port explosion.
Aoun, Bassil, and PM Najib Mikati have called for the probe to continue unhampered, while Hezbollah and the Amal movement have asked to remove the investigating judge over allegations of political bias.
Agencies contributed to this report.