8th May, 2016: Lebanon has begun its first round of municipal elections as thousands cast their votes in Beirut, the Bekaa Valley and Baalbek-Hermel. This is the first electoral process in Lebanon since 2009 due to the stalemate between the two main political camps, which has resulted in postponement of parliamentary and presidential elections on a number of occasions. This has given the municipal elections a new-found importance, as under the current conditions the Lebanese perceive it as their only avenue to influence the political process.
SRT grantee Fe-Male, together with other Lebanese women’s rights NGOs and with the support of the Lebanese Association for Democratic Elections, have been observing and monitoring all polling stations to evaluate the impact of various aspects of the electoral process on women and men’s access to their right to vote and their choice of candidate. Election observation is a valuable tool for improving the quality of elections and can help promote and protect the civil and political rights of citizens. Fe-Male believes that collecting statistical data can be particularly helpful in analyzing women’s participation and assessing whether trends are moving in a positive direction.
Fe-Male’s observations so far lead it to believe that women’s effective participation in the Lebanese elections have been hindered by the current majoritarian electoral system, the lack of a specific quota for women, and by family dynamics and pressures. It aims to publish its observations and findings after the elections are completed on 28th May 2016. It hopes to suggest future practical steps to reform electoral laws and render electoral processes more democratic, transparent and gender-sensitive.
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