14. State Consociationalism and Democracy
This chapter examines contemporary challenges to the establishment of a democratic civil state in Lebanon. The characteristic of sectarian populism is highlighted as a phenomenon that has overwhelmed Lebanese communal politics and undermined Lebanon’s potential to become a secular nation-state. The chapter also discusses anti-sectarian movements and provides various reform propositions to move beyond sectarianism, which include electoral and administrative restructuring of government. The future of state consociationalism and the sectarian power sharing arrangement is, finally, analyzed in light of the Arab Spring and regional transformations. It takes into consideration the rise of communitarianism and the decline of nation-states in the broader Arab region, which had a direct influence on Lebanese politics and institutions. Lebanon was initially saved from direct communal violence by the fact that its polity was already communitarianized and shared within the context of consociational model. But despite initial resilience to the storm in of the Arab Spring events, Lebanon was later swept up in the tide of unrest. Beginning in 2019, challenges confronting the consociational state were mounting as demands to confront rampant corruption attributed to lacking oversight and the unchecked power of elites burst into massive street protests.
Sectarian Populism in Lebanon
Since its inception in 1943, Lebanon has been torn by different and opposing sectarian interests. The “war of the sects” has taken a fixed but at other times violent path. This struggle has resulted in a unique and complex Lebanese government and political framework. The government has often invited...
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