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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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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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