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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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1. World Democracies and Lebanese Consociationalism


This chapter examines different political systems around the world and introduces the particular form of governance established in Lebanon. Various ideological, federal, and consociational democracies are examined; in turn, case studies are presented to better inform debate. Lebanon’s consociational power-sharing form of government is explored through the social foundations that shape the political institutions of the country.

Politics of Democratic Systems

Of approximately 200 countries in the world, 82 are considered fully or partially democratic. Most of them share social and political practices and traditions, yet their governments and political systems vary. In general, the variation stems from their social dynamics, which are framed either by ideological, regional, or communal politics. Ideological politics play a central role in the establishment of representative governments based on majoritarian principles. Regional-and communal-based politics, on the other hand, give rise to governments that are based on loose, decentralized power structures capable of accommodating the diverse interests of social groups in the country. Thus, each form of democracy ←3 | 4→is largely determined by the way in which the government and society are intertwined.

Ideological Democracies

In an ideological democracy, the population is typically cohesive in its ethnic, racial, religious, linguistic, historic, and geographic makeup. Political quarrels are mainly centered on economic and social policies, the role of the private versus public sectors in the economy, security strategies, and freedoms. Politics is played out by different political actors, with groups and parties competing to gain the support...

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