2. Origin of Lebanese Political Sectarianism
This chapter summarizes the modern origins of Lebanese political sectarianism, dating back to the insurrection of Mount Lebanon in 1841. It gives a chronological account of European involvement and the development of Lebanon’s partition into two administrative areas between the Maronite Christians and Druze. It discusses the evolution of the first constitutional arrangement—the Organic Laws of Lebanon (Règlement Organique du Liban)—illustrating the early political institutionalization of sectarian division, as well as detailing different periods in the development of the region, including the period of modernization and prosperity (1861–1914) and the League of Nations’ French Mandate (1922–1943). It also discusses the first Lebanese Constitution of 1926 and the power sharing system created for the 18 officially recognized sects.
Driving Forces for System Change
In Lebanon, with its small, densely populated, geostrategically significant territory and heterogeneous, communally divided society, consociationalism has been presented as an appropriate form of government within which internal sectarian differences can be resolved. Even before the establishment of the Republic of Lebanon in 1943, consociationalism, also referred to as confessionalism, has ←17 | 18→been the preferred political/institutional arrangement within which sectarian competition for socioeconomic and political power was managed. The evolution of geopolitical confessional arrangements in Lebanon throughout its modern history has been driven by internal political demography, on one hand, and external events, on the other—namely, the strategic regional proxy role played out by sectarian groups. Inter-and intra-geopolitical changes have exerted tremendous pressure for the rearrangement of...
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