BEIRUT — President Michel Aoun announced in a tweet on Friday that the amendments to the electoral law were approved for the second time by Parliament last week are now in effect, despite his refusal to sign them. The amended law took effect after its publication in the official journal on Wednesday.
Here’s what we know:
• On Oct. 19, Parliament approved amendments to the electoral law, including moving the date for the 2022 parliamentary elections from May 8 to March 27. Gebran Bassil, Aoun’s son-in-law and now-head of the Free Patriotic Movement founded by Aoun, came out strongly against the amendments, and Aoun refused to ratify them, instead referring the law back to Parliament.
• The FPM officials argued that the earlier election date, which was nominally chosen to avoid campaigning during the month of Ramadan, would cause logistical issues because of inclement weather that might prevent people from reaching the polls in some areas. Aoun also argued that the new date would deprive thousands of people who would reach the voting age of 21 between March 27 and May 8 of the chance to vote.
• Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri scheduled a committee session to discuss Aoun’s comments regarding the amendments and then called for a parliamentary session on Oct. 28, where legislators once again approved the amendments, including the earlier election date.
• Legal experts told L’Orient Today that the electoral law amendments could take effect despite Aoun’s refusal to sign them, because the second time parliament approves a law it automatically becomes effective even without the president’s signature. One expert also said that since these amendments were “legally urgent,” they would be effective five days after passage. The law’s publication in the official journal came five days after Parliament’s vote.
• The legal expert added, however, that Aoun could argue in the future before the Constitutional Court that the law’s approval was unconstitutional, since it was approved by 61 MP voters while the constitution requires at least 65 MPs to approve it. In deciding on the lower quorum number, Berri had argued that those who are resigned or dead do not count in quorum and that this method was used previously during the elections of presidents Bachir Gemayel and Rene Mouawad.
• The adopted amendments also rejected the establishment of an additional six members of Parliament designated specifically for Lebanese expats and instead gave the expats the right to vote in their own constituencies from abroad, to which Bassil also objected.