As MPs doffed their jackets and ties amid the sweltering heat at UNESCO Palace during Wednesday’s session of Parliament, one could not help but feel a twinge of schadenfreude. After all, these were the same people who have been making us sweat, both literally and figuratively, as fuel runs out, electricity shuts off, prices skyrocket and bank deposits sit largely out of reach.
In true form, the barely functional Parliament chose speed — in this case, getting out of the heat — over careful legislating. What was to be a two-day session collapsed into one as Speaker Nabih Berri barreled through the 70-item-plus agenda. (Multiple versions of the agenda were distributed, with some failing to properly number the items, adding to the disarray.)
The most important item on the docket, a bill to create a ration card program for Lebanon’s neediest, was barely a legal document at all, failing to specify the source of funding, the mechanism for distributing the money, or even who qualifies.
Those apparent details “will remain the responsibility of the government,” Berri declared. Which effectively translates to: We parliamentarians will not do our job, but instead keep the details of this program off the public record, and ensure that we are not blamed for any failure or gross corruption that ensues.
It might be better had they simply done nothing at all.
Of course, that option was also off the table, as the current Parliament’s legitimacy ebbs in the public square. Down 10 members after the resignation of eight MPs following the Beirut port explosion and the death of two others, Parliament’s full legitimacy hinges on constitutionally mandated by-elections that have not taken place. This is not to mention the public’s utter disdain for most, if not all, politicians following the financial crisis and the Oct. 17, 2019, uprising. If the public could draft the next electoral law, they would likely attempt to bar current and former MPs from running for re-election.
That, of course, is a fever dream. The rules for the next election will be decided by those currently in Parliament — and their bosses — and no one wants to cut themselves out of power.
Which is what makes this week’s ration card proposal all the more questionable. Prior to the bill’s discussion, Future Movement MP Mohammad Hajjar warned the ration cards should more aptly be called “election cards,” a tool to be used to shore up support for traditional parties in next year’s vote.
This cannot be allowed to happen. Elections must take place next year, without the usual vote-buying shenanigans or new ones concocted amid collapse. That is the only way to truly make the politicians sweat.
Source : https://www.lorientlejour.com/article/1267316/making-the-politicians-sweat.html474