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The Government and Politics of Lebanon

Second Edition

Imad Salamey

The Government and Politics of Lebanon, Second Edition describes the special attributes of Lebanese politics and the functions of its confessional state. It aims to contribute to the reader’s understanding of contemporary Lebanese politics, consensus building, and government. It stimulates discussion concerning the nature of consociationalism as a power sharing arrangement for a divided society. The book captures the complexity of Lebanese politics by revealing the challenges embedded in the management of plurality, including institutional paralysis and system stagnations. The second edition features new and expanded chapters that pay particular attention to state’s adaptations to post-Arab Spring politics. It expands the analysis on the performance of the Lebanese consociational state in light of turbulent regional environment and the various repercussions associated with regional conflict. It is divided into several parts. The first introduces the particular form and foundations of Lebanese consociationalism and provides an elaborate description of its special features. The second part explains the different rules of the game as institutionalized in the country’s international and domestic power sharing arrangements. It describes the international politics of Lebanon and the influence exerted by regional powers in shaping its domestic affairs. It explains the manifestation of domestic parties and electoral systems in the power distribution among the country’s different sectarian and ethnic groups. It analyzes the political economy of communitarian politics. The third part focuses on the contemporary powers and functions of the different branches of government as well as their institutional expression of sectarian interests. The fourth part of the book places Lebanese consociationalism in light of contemporary regional turmoil and describes state’s responsiveness in mitigating and managing conflicts, particularly those associated with the spillover from the Syrian conflict.
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Foreword: Why the Government and Politics of Lebanon 2nd Edition?


The ancient political question regarding which form of government is the best continues to puzzle the minds of contemporary political thinkers. The choice has proven increasingly critical to the survival of nations as more countries have begun their political journeys toward democracy. The fact that societies and nations vary by historic, geographic, economic, religious, regional, cultural, and racial peculiarities now more than ever has required delicate considerations in the formulation of political choices. Indeed, the global diversity of nations and societies has transformed the choice of governance, making it among the most critical decisions in determining the existence, stability, and tranquility of nations.

Political experiences have taught us the grave consequences that await nations when their governance choices are made without cultural and political considerations. Many multiethnic, postcolonial states in Africa and the Middle East, among others, have suffered the consequences of ill-founded governing institutions. In 1994, the Hutu-dominated Rwandan government provoked a campaign of ethnic cleansing that resulted in the massacre of more than one million Rwandan Tutsis. In South Africa, the system of apartheid led to racial segregation and eventually to racial and ethnic conflicts throughout the postcolonial period. In fact, the governing choice for a plural society has proven to be among the most crucial political decisions, particularly in divisive and transitional societies.

Democratic consociationalism has been proposed as one of the possible suitable forms of governance for societies that are deeply divided along ethnic, linguistic, religious, cultural, and racial lines. In 1943,...

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