Institute of Migration Studies
Lebanese American University
August 8, 2011

Maalouf: No quota for representing the immigration

Washington, DC - Carel Hayek

Do you believe that the Lebanese abroad should have the right to vote in Lebanon?

All Lebanese who have the proper identification and are living abroad should have the right to participate in the duty of elections. It is a right not a privilege. It is the core responsibility of the Lebanese government to reach out to its citizens all over the world and provide them with the mechanism they deserve to hear their opinion in the 2013 elections. A law was voted on by the Lebanese parliament allowing the Lebanese living abroad to vote and this law should be implemented immediately.

Do you see any negative repercussions if Lebanese abroad were able to vote?

I see only positive results for a better Lebanon if the Lebanese abroad participate in this upcoming parliamentary election. I see real change taking place; I see real reform accelerating; I see a better and more effective representation that the Lebanese can benefit from if this takes place with transparency and good will. There are more than 800 thousand Lebanese who carry the Lebanese citizenship and have the right to vote. Just imagine the impact that those people can make if they are allowed to vote from our Lebanese Embassies, Consulates and Honorary Consulates locations around the world.

If your organization believes that the Lebanese abroad should be able to vote, what do you do to make this happen?

All Lebanese organizations all over the world should volunteer to help in the implementation of this voting right. As for the Lebanese American Renaissance Partnership, we urge the Lebanese government to take this step and we hope that President Sleiman implements his promise when he took the oath of office regarding the Lebanese immigrants. I also recommend that we use electronic voting booths all over the world with results showing immediately on the evening of the elections in Beirut. This is not difficult to implement. If there is a will there is a way.

Do you think that the Lebanese abroad should have the right to be elected to parliament?

Of course, if they want to run. Actually in my open letter to the Lebanese people I invited the successful Lebanese businessmen to run for parliament. I stated the reasons and the benefits to the Lebanese people. If 25% of the elected deputies are from abroad, I tell you that Lebanon is headed in the right direction.

I am totally against a quota of seats. The Lebanese abroad should vote for the region they belong to and to the existing 128 seats. This proposed idea to create a number of seats for the emigrants in Lebanon only leads to reinforcing the political godfathers’ mentality. We need the immigrants to reform the existing political system not to fall into it.