Lebanon: Presidential Elections Debate

Lebanon has officially entered the constitutional period for the election of a new president. This has not happened yet. Electing a president in Lebanon is done by parliament. So far the date for assembly has been postponed twice. The great schism in the country between the two major political factions is one of the many reasons for the delay. There are also the fears of more violence or unrests that may ensue if a non–consensual president is elected. Local and foreign negotiations and interventions are taking place nowadays. The deadline for the election is November 23. This is when the current president’s tenure is over. Parliament has been called to convene on November 21 for the elections – two days before the deadline. Most people hope that an agreement will be reached before that date. It is noteworthy that November 22 is Lebanon’s Independence Day. Here are a few reactions from the Lebanese blogosphere concerning the upcoming elections. Keep checking back since there will be more in the coming two weeks.

Walid mentions the disagreements that cloud the Lebanese society and how difficult it is to talk or write about an idea since there will always be an opposing one. And after some analysis of the situation he concludes with a suggestion of how to end the deadlock:

Great controversy arises every time one writes about Lebanon. One reason is the extreme polarization, a factor that perturbs dialogue and puts in place two mutually eliminating opinions that diverge on a deep structural level. […]

The only viable solution for the Lebanese deadlock is to let the majority speak about its interests and choose, directly, which discourse represents its interests.

What about the constant postponing and waiting till the last minute before getting a new president? Well, Riemer Brouwer advices us not to worry:

Given that most Lebanese systematically arrive late and seldom plan ahead, there might still be plenty of time. […] Here, life is less structured and more flexible. The Lebanese are used to doing things the last minute and it’s exactly this feat that comes in handy now.

For Mustapha the negotiations taking place between Lebanese parties to reach a consensual president “are part of an opaque and complex process that leaves the people clueless and powerless.” He states:

We know Mr. Hariri is talking with Mr. Berri. We also know that Mr. Hariri is talking with Mr. Aoun. That’s all. With the exception of a few clarifying statements here and there, we the Lebanese are in the dark when it comes to negotiations on who the next President will be.

While R who writes at Voices on the Wind sees that the idea of a consensual president is naive and ridiculous, because, among other things:

In all likelihood, the person whose name they agree on – our next president – will be an inconsequential fool with no popular support whatsoever. Thus making an almost ceremonial position whose only real power is to impede even more ceremonial.. Of course, by compromising here, M14 is opening the door to the next question, that of a national unity government, on which they will have to compromise again in the face of threats of unrest and civil war – in other words blackmail.

Jounoune posts about Hezbollah’s opinion about the election, which was declared by its chief Hassan Nasrallah:

Nasrallah backs early polls to defuse presidential crisis…'The whole world’ cannot disarm resistance – and cabinet [government] is ‘a bunch of thieves and murderers’

Sursock is sarcastic about the U.S. constant warnings to others not to interfere in Lebanon’s elections while it does just that:

I can just see the headlines now, “Bush warns Lebanese voters not to meddle in presidential poll.”

Leila's Magazine posts an analysis which describes the struggle in Lebanon and the region as between nationalists who are for self determination and internationalists who are for a new world order that was declared since 1991:

Most people view the political impasse as between Opposition and Loyalists, Syrians and Lebanese, Lebanese and Israelis, etc. However, the true confrontation should be viewed between the “internationalists” (from all sides – who want this global government and create the environment that justify more international involvement) and the “nationalists” (from all sides as well – who need to better reach out for one another, become more vocal, and save their country’s sovereignty and constitutional rights). […]
Currently, with regard to Lebanon’s presidency, there are certain scenarios that, if they materialize, would justify more international involvement and less Lebanese sovereignty. On the other hand, the “nationalists” from all sides must, of course, prevent these scenarios from developing and take measures that would sustain constitutional standards and unified governmental institutions.

Abu Kais details the new French initiative which he describes as a democratic choice outside democracy. He also suspected that the session that was to be held this week will be postponed, and that suspicion turned out to be true:

This is what the French are marketing in Lebanon and Syria: a mechanism by which the Maronite patriarch names 5 presidential candidates, who would then be reduced to two by Hariri and Berri, before parliament convenes to choose one.[…]
Starting Monday, the world will converge on Lebanon to pressure the Lebanese to agree on a list of candidates, Sarkozy style (sadly, not French style, for that is not French democracy we see here). Also on Monday, a session to elect a president will probably not take place, awaiting the terrorist to pass a test he failed many times. Somewhere along the way, in between assassinations and mass terror, much of the world forgot that for democracy to work, democratic choices need to be made.

Finally, Blacksmith recaps everything that has been said about the expected elections on his blog:

For the past week, we’ve been quiet on the issue of the upcoming presidential election, but that’s only because we’ve already said most of what needs to be said.

The elections are not over yet and neither will the bloggers’ reactions be. So expect more to come.

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