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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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6. The Arab Spring Republic


The quickly unfolding events of the Arab Spring soon proved unbearable for a minimum ruling governing coalition. The spectacle of collapsing Arab authoritarian regimes and raging violence in Syria alarmed all sectarian groups about the potentially grave consequences of a spillover. A massive influx of Syrian refugees, along with the military intervention of Lebanese armed groups in the Syrian conflict, brought tensions to the fore. Domestic polarization and periods of stalemate led to Parliament extending its own term and the presidential post being left vacant. But, in this case, consociationalism demonstrated exceptional resiliency in the management of domestic disputes amid regional storms. It mitigated confessional polarization and responded to the changing regional balance of power. Following stiff negotiations between the political parties, a grand coalition government was formed, a president was elected in accordance with the Doha rules of conduct, and a new electoral system was instated, ushering in a new era that consolidated confessional groups’ grip on power and defused potential reasons for collision. A new consociational republic had been instated, with shares of power reconfigured along the lines of the new emerging regional balance of power.

The Arab Spring

In 2011, peaceful protests swept major Arab cities, demanding political freedom and representation. The movement was able to force the ouster of Tunisia’s President Zein El-Abidine Ben Ali, President Husni Mubarak of Egypt, and President Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen, while Libya’s President Muammar Gaddafi was captured and killed by rebels. In other countries, such...

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