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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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12. Lebanese Executive Branch


This chapter provides a detailed account of the functions and roles of the president and prime minister. The Council of Ministers is also examined in terms of its power, process of formation, portfolios, general organization, constitutional terms, contemporary role, political makeup, and types of policy issues under its jurisdictions, required quorums, relations to legislative and judicial branches, and the current political and sectarian makeup of the Council. Local government is also discussed, particularly its role at the municipal level, powers, and its various administrative formations.

Presidential versus Parliamentary Systems

Democracies are generally divided into presidential and parliamentary systems. In a presidential system, the head of state is the president, who is directly elected by the entire population of the country. It is typically the case that significant power is vested in the office of the president, who can claim direct and sole national allegiance as reflected in the ballot box. Members of Parliament, on the other hand, are elected by geographically limited constituencies. In Egypt, for example, the president is the only public servant elected by the entire population. As ←199 | 200→a representative of the entire national will, he summons in his office very significant powers that often overwhelm other branches of government. In the United States, the president heads the cabinet and appoints all its members. Because of his very dominant role and constitutional powers, the US president becomes the head of the party and leads a very active role in directing the Congressional...

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