Candidates, activists and the international community joined today with the Ministry of Interior and Municipalities to discuss how different electoral systems can impact on the participation of women in elections.
Lebanese Elections Assistance Project (LEAP)
Parliamentary elections that were scheduled in Lebanon for June 2013 got postponed with a projected date -November 2014. Building upon the efforts that were made over the last year, LEAP identified a series of activities that should be undertaken in preparation for the upcoming Elections. While there were generally positive assessments of the previous elections in 2009, there have been sustained calls for the adoption of significant electoral reforms that would strengthen public confidence in the electoral process. Draft legislation that is being considered by Parliament proposes a series of measures to improve the way in which elections are conducted, including the introduction of official ballots and measures to increase the number of women candidates. Lebanese electoral actors, including the Ministry of Interior and Municipalities (MOIM), which has responsibility for election management, have identified the need for capacity-building initiatives, especially in relation to mechanisms for the implementation of reforms and enabling transparency and openness in the electoral process.
With the exception of the civil war period, Lebanon has regularly held multi-party elections. Nevertheless, the institutional capacities of the election management structures, currently the responsibility of the Ministry of Interior and Municipalities (MOIM), are limited and under-resourced, especially in relation to mechanisms for the implementation of reforms and enabling transparency and openness in the electoral process. Other electoral actors, such as the Supervisory Commission for the Election Campaign (SCEC) and judicial bodies with responsibilities for electoral disputes, also have limited technical capacities for performing their roles in an inclusive and transparent manner. Lebanese citizens have a broad experience of electoral issues, but significant efforts are needed to provide effective voter education to inform voters of new procedural changes and to build confidence in the electoral process. A fundamental problem in Lebanon is the weak opportunities that are provided to women to participate in the electoral process, with women holding 3% of parliamentary seats.
Achievements & Expected Results
Within this context, UNDP is implementing the Lebanese Electoral Assistance Programme (LEAP), which has the objective to strengthen the capacity of stakeholders for the conduct of transparent and inclusive elections in Lebanon. Through a multi-component approach, the project has the intended outcomes of providing a strengthened capacity for: (1) the management and administration of Elections (2) the supervision of election campaigns (3) the provision of voter education initiatives (4) the resolution of electoral disputes, and (5) initiatives to improve election opportunities for women. The project, funded by the EU, USAID and the UK, builds upon sustained engagement on electoral issues by UNDP since 2005, including a previous electoral assistance programme for the 2009 parliamentary elections.