9. Elections and Parties
This chapter introduces the Lebanese electoral system. Elections are discussed in terms of the electoral law, including electoral districts, distribution of seats, and major challenges confronting political reform in the country. A description of the Lebanese party system is provided, with reference to the sectarian cleavages and competition that are conducive to sectarian populism. The chapter includes an account of Lebanon’s various political parties, explaining their types and functions as well as their alliances.
Most electoral systems in the world are distinguished by being either majoritarian or proportional. Since independence, Lebanon has implemented a majoritarian bloc vote, first-past-the-post system, in which voters choose as many candidates as there are allocated sectarian seats to their district. In principle, the system was designed to minimize intersectarian competition and to maximize cross-confessional cooperation; candidates are opposed only by co-religionists but must seek support from outside of their own faith in order to be elected. In 2017 a new electoral law was introduced, and for the first time, a proportional list system ←141 | 142→within mid-sized districts, allowing the voter to give preference to a candidate on the list from his or her own sub-district.
The electoral system has embodied the compromise between confessional elites that dates back to the National Covenant of 1943, which was updated in the Taef Accords of 1989. The fundamental purpose of these agreements was to mitigate latent conflict between militant sectarian groups. The Taef Accords stipulated a one-to-one ratio between...
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