Your vote, your duty

A great wheel in the Lebanese capital Beirut carries electoral billboards of Lebanese Prime Minister and candidate for the upcoming parliamentary elections Saad Hariri and his slain father and former prime minister Rafic Hariri on May 2, 2018. AFP / JOSEPH EID

For decades Lebanon sought a new proportional election law that would produce a Parliament more representative of the country’s diverse population.

After much hard work, negotiations and horse-trading, in 2017 a proportional law was finally born that would replace the archaic 1960 system.

Granted the law is imperfect, but what is of significance is that all eligible Lebanese have the privilege of choosing who will represent them in Parliament, a privilege that millions of others in this region are denied.

And to neglect such a privilege after years of clamoring for a vote law that better serves your interests is ludicrous, even with the flies in the ointment.

Yes, the proportional election law has its flaws, but it’s easy to look at the glass as half empty until we recall that Lebanon can boast the privilege of being the only true democracy in the region, with all communities properly represented.

It will take time until the gaps in the law are sealed. But that is the case with most of the world’s democracies, where every election law has faced complaints and calls for amendments.

To expect Lebanon, home to 18 sects and rife with sectarianism, cronyism and corruption, to be otherwise is unrealistic.

Voting is the highest form of freedom, regardless of whom you vote for, and to abstain from exercising such a privilege is akin to forfeiting your highest right as a Lebanese citizen.

The various Lebanese communities will always have specific demands, and they will always need their champions. Going to the polls is the best and only way to attain those goals. Otherwise they could lose their chance of having their voices heard.

Such an outcome is in no one’s interests, and is detrimental to Lebanon as a whole. We have a duty to our communities, our country and ourselves to choose who speaks for us, and for that reason we must cast our votes on May 6.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on May 03, 2018, on page 1.




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