Reconsidering the Case of Proportional Representation Election Systems in Plural Societies:
The Case of Lebanon
Nov 23, 2021 | 4:00pm – 5.30pm (Kuala Lumpur)
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Proportional Representation (PR) electoral systems are commonly prescribed as the optimal type of election system for plural societies. Following years of deadlock, in 2017 Lebanon adopted a PR electoral system for the first time. Lebanon is a textbook example of a plural society: it is comprised of 19 officially recognized religious communities. This talk questions the conventional wisdom prescribing PR for plural societies by drawing on the case of Lebanon where PR not only undermined incentives for candidates to seek cross-communal support to win but also entrenched voters in religious communities. This talk draws on other plural societies – namely Iraq and
Bosnia and Herzegovina – where a PR electoral system undermined the need for candidates to rely on cross-communal electoral support to win.
Amal Hamdan is an electoral systems, governance and legal framework expert. Her PhD research, conducted at King’s College London, focused on the process of electoral system reforms within institutional contexts where the Constitution assigns extensive powers favouring the executive branch at the expense of the legislative, using the process of electoral reforms in Lebanon from 1922 as a case study. Previously, Hamdan was a Middle East based-senior news producer with Aljazeera Television where she spent 12 years covering political developments in the Middle East. Hamdan is an electoral system and legal framework consultant with the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), working on Sudan and Lebanon.