Elections, Lebanon

Lebanese 2009 Election Reports

The National Democratic Institute has released its report on the Lebanese parliamentary elections of 2009. (Download a PDF in English or Arabic.) See if you can spot this blog in the footnotes.

The EU Observation Mission released its report (pdf) back in October; the Carter Center has yet to publish a final report.

It now occurs to me that we here at Qifa Nabki never released an unofficial election report of our own, despite our role as amateur “observers”. If you are a new reader of this blog, here’s a link to some of the better posts and discussions on the subject.

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Discussion

7 thoughts on “Lebanese 2009 Election Reports

  1. thank for the info. I just downloaded the report. Indeed QN is quoted on page 31

    Posted by i.e. Lubnan | March 22, 2010, 4:53 pm
  2. I would like to ride the coattails of this post about elections to report what I consider to be a hugely important development that could impact on the Lebanese sectarian confessional electoral system
    I learned only today that an EU court ruled in June of 2009 in a case brought by a Jew and a Rom against the electoral system in Bosnia. The court found in favour of the complainant that he was discriminated against by the rule that prevents him from running for the office of the Presidency and also for the upper chamber on the grounds of being a minority.
    Please do not remind me that these rulings do not apply in Lebanon . We all know that. But if Lebanon is to strengthen its ties with the EU as is likely then at one point the EU could request that all such states must be in compliance with the general principles of respecting individual human rights by not practicing outright discrimination based on nothing else but personal beliefs and religious practice.
    I am glad that an EU court agrees with the position that many of us have been calling for. Eliminate discriminatory practices and open the elections for any citizen and for all offices. How about an Armenian female for president? Why not?

    Posted by ghassan karam | March 22, 2010, 5:34 pm
  3. Ghassan,

    Along these same lines, I wanted to ask you what you made of this op-ed in the Daily Star, from a couple of weeks ago.

    Beirut’s “secularism march” will uphold constitutional rights

    By Alexandre Medawar

    Launched by a small group of non-partisan civic-minded citizens called Laique [Secular] Pride, the March for Secularism will bring Lebanese together on April 25 in support of secularism, and to bring attention to the letter and spirit of the Lebanese Constitution. Participants will walk from the Beirut neighborhood Ain al-Mraysseh on the Mediterranean to the Lebanese Parliament building.

    All too often, Lebanon is represented as a collection of diverse faiths in delicate balance, engaged in ongoing negotiations over power-sharing. One forgets that the Constitution is the only text that is recognized by all segments of the population. And, as a social contract, it represents the basis for all Lebanese to live together “without discrimination,” irrespective of religious affiliation, gender, ethnic origin or personal beliefs.

    The preamble to the Lebanese Constitution states: “Lebanon is a parliamentary democratic republic based on respect for public liberties, especially the freedom of opinion and belief, and respect for social justice and equality of rights and duties among all citizens without discrimination.”

    Article 7 affirms that “all Lebanese are equal before the law. They equally enjoy civil and political rights and equally are bound by public obligations and duties without any distinction.” And Article 9 guarantees “the free exercise of all religious rites … and religious interests of the population.”

    Contrary to current practice in Lebanon based on the National Pact of 1943, which effectively institutionalized Lebanon as a multi-confessional state, and the later Taif Accord in 1989, which eventually brought an end to the Civil War that had started in 1975, there is no mention in the Constitution of the religious apportionment of parliamentary seats or the sectarian distribution of administrative posts. Nor does the document mention the allocation of high-level government positions by religion, for example the designation of a Maronite Christian as president, a Sunni Muslim as prime minister, and a Shiite Muslim as speaker of Parliament.

    Article 9 of the Constitution clearly determines the secular character of the Lebanese state and consequently the secular character of Lebanese citizenship. Lebanon is a republican and secular state in which all citizens are equal. In theory, that is.

    In practice, however, Lebanon is controlled by a political oligarchy composed of businessmen, community leaders, descendents of feudal families, and former militia chiefs who, from the first days of the country’s independence in 1943, used their influence to allocate state positions through confessional haggling. This horse-trading system, which has been renegotiated whenever a major political crisis has occurred in Lebanon short history, is now well entrenched outside the democratic sphere. Worse yet, is in blatant violation of the text of the Lebanese Constitution.

    In fact, the nation’s legislators never established a civil status code that would distinguish Lebanese citizens from their religious status. Citizenship is contingent on religion first and foremost, since all personal legal acts (birth, marriage, death, and inheritance) are recorded in separate official records established along religious lines.

    However, today many Lebanese citizens are beginning to endorse the stated values of the republican, secular and equalitarian Constitution. Whether they are religious or not, practicing believers or not, they do not identify with the sectarian and unconstitutional practices put in place by the political oligarchy. These Lebanese claim the right to enjoy their civic rights and carry out their civic duties irrespective of any religion, in keeping with the letter and spirit of the Constitution – no more, no less.

    Thus, the principle of “social justice and equality of rights and duties among all citizens without discrimination” laid down in the preamble to the Constitution should clearly apply to such issues as the civil status of marriage; the right for all citizens to be elected and to represent voters irrespective of religious criteria; and the right for all Lebanese to apply for government positions based strictly on professional merit.

    As such, the civic movement behind Laique Pride is neither a syncretic movement nor an attempt at pacifying interreligious relations. Essentially apolitical and areligious, this movement demands the re-establishment of the civic rights guaranteed by Lebanon’s Constitution and broadly ignored by the country’s political representatives.

    The march has received the green light from the Interior Ministry and Municipalities. It is the first step in bringing together the individuals and groups in civil society that support a secular Lebanon. For now, its goal is to make all Lebanese aware of the text that lays down the foundations of their state and to strive for its application through legal means and the media.

    Alexandre Medawar is an editor of l’Orient Littéraire, the monthly literary supplement of the Lebanese French-language daily, l’Orient-Le Jour. THE DAILY STAR publishes this commentary in collaboration with the Common Ground News Service (commongroundnews.org).

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | March 22, 2010, 5:41 pm
  4. QN,
    I sure endorse everysingle thing that the editorial speaks about. This issue has been a soap box of mine for decades. I feel, as you know, very strongly about the inefficient and discriminatory practices of any and all confessional systems. This same idea also goes a long way in explaining my oppoaition in principle to each and every political party and individual who seeks to exploit what is ultimately a private matter.
    Believe me when I say that I have a large number of freinds whose religious affiliation, if any, I do not know. Itjust is not important whether one prays , believes in an ex nihilo creation or not. Respect for personal freedom implies accepting individuals not on the basis of whether they believe in an intelligent designer but on the basis of their knowledge, creativity, humanity and berespect of others.

    Posted by ghassan karam | March 22, 2010, 6:49 pm
  5. Ghassan,

    All of this I know. What I was hoping to ask you to shed light on is the case that author makes regarding the unconstitutionality of the system.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | March 22, 2010, 7:42 pm
  6. QN,
    I took that for granted based on what I said. Of course I strongly believe that it is totally unconstitutional.
    Unfortunately we do not have in Lebanon a well developed judiciary that is independent of the executive and the legislative bodies so as to find against them. To me its a no brainer that the constitution does not prescribe a Maronite President, a Shia Speaker or even the silly equality in the distribution of the parliamentary seats.
    If my memory serves me correctly a group of youthful citizens , from the wrong sect,decided to run in a district when someone was assassinated a few years ago but the ministry of the interior would not allow them to register and they were prevented from bringing a legal case. That was to be expected because the powers that be benefit from the current system. It gives them power and allowes them to exploit and discriminate.

    Posted by ghassan karam | March 22, 2010, 8:13 pm
  7. QN,

    I wish you would make an entire post of this editorial, as it is worthy of more than being buried in the comments section.

    Like Ghassan, I agree with every single word in this editorial and believe that in the end, the constitution should be the only legitimate and recognized basis for the state. It appears that under decades of malpractice, and “tradition”, most Lebanese are probably not even aware of what their constitution says. Hell, I didn’t even know it was this clear on secularism and discrimination until I read just this.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | March 23, 2010, 1:40 pm

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