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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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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.

Electoral System

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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