It led to the withdrawal of the “Strong Lebanon” deputies of the FPM, thus losing the session’s quorum.
Opinions differed in the session on whether or not the absolute majority is determined by calculating the resigned and deceased members of parliament.
The constitutionality of this formula aroused suspicion among the MPs of the FPM since Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri adopted a different formula when electing Michel Aoun as president.
The “Strong Lebanon” bloc is relying on that, according to Bassil, to challenge Berri‘s amendments.
The dispute erupted over what Bassil and the FPM deputies called a constitutional violation during the vote on the article related to the expatriate vote.
61 deputies voted for expatriates to vote for 128 deputies, each in his/her district. These 61 deputies are from the Lebanese Forces (LF), the Progressive Socialist Party (PSP), the Future Movement, and the Amal Movement.
Opposing that, the FPM bloc and the Hezbollah bloc “Loyalty to the Resistance” and some other deputies voted in favor of adhering to an earlier law that aimed at creating 6 seats on the 6 continents for expatriates to vote for.
The disagreement arose over whether the absolute majority represents half the total number of parliament members plus one (65 votes), which is the opinion that Bassil stuck to, or half the number of deputies without counting the resigned and deceased (59 deputies), which is the number Speaker Berri is deciding on against the establishment of only 6 seats for expatriates.
Leading sources in the FPM said that Berri has entrapped himself in a constitutional pitfall through “discretion in calculating the absolute majority at his whim and exposing the election law to a challenge, for violating the constitution and the provisions of the law.”
And therefore, the “Strong Lebanon” bloc will head towards challenging the amendments mentioned by Bassil after his withdrawal from the parliamentary session.
It has been circulating that Parliament has fixed the date for holding the elections on March 27, 2022, noting that the date of the elections is not specified in the electoral law, but rather is issued by a decree from the government.
All the parliament is concerned with is only setting administrative deadlines related to electoral lists and the registration of expatriates.
MP George Adwan indicated that “Parliament did not vote on the date of March 27 but made the amendments that allow the government to bring the date closer if it wants to, and any mention of the date in the law exposes it to an appeal.”
On the other hand, Foreign Minister Abdullah Bou Habib confirmed that it is “impossible to complete the registration of expatriates’ lists within the new deadlines after the parliamentary elections were approached. A similar statement was made by Interior Minister Bassam al-Mawlawi.