A friend recently drew my attention to a fascinating and rather addictive website called Vote Match For Lebanon, designed by Nahar al-Shabab. The site takes the form of an online survey meant to help people figure out which Lebanese party best suits their political positions.
The survey contains twenty-six statements and you have the option of agreeing or disagreeing (either partially or completely) with each one. You can also rate the importance of the issue raised, or pass on it altogether.
After you finish the survey, the website produces a list of Lebanese parties, ranking them according to the degree to which your answers match their political platforms. The “match” is expressed as a percentage.
The statements range from predictable litmus tests of party loyalty like the status of Hizbullah’s weapons and the future of relations with Syria, to questions about different policy issues (e.g. electoral reform, women’s rights, a national curriculum for public schools, etc.)
Here’s a quick paraphrase of the first ten items for those who don’t read Arabic:
- The president’s powers of forming a government and dissolving the Chamber of Deputies — as they existed prior to the Ta’if Accord — should be restored;
- A Senate should be established, along with a National Commission to Abolish Political Sectarianism as a first step towards secularizing the state;
- The reason why administrative decentralization has not been pursued is because of the fear that it will lead to federalism;
- There is no point in continuing the national dialogue talks because they haven’t led to anything productive;
- Turning Hizbullah’s weapons into a permanent reality threatens the building of the state;
- We should get rid of Palestinian weapons in Lebanon;
- The future opposition should have a blocking veto in the cabinet;
- Syria and its allies want to impede the progress of the Tribunal by any means necessary;
- The division of the security services threatens the security situation in the country;
- The borders between Lebanon and Syria should be drawn despite the continued occupation of territory by Israel…
I bet you’re all wondering how I did, right? Well I’m going to tell you anyway. The first several times I completed the survey, the website seemed to crash while processing my answers. I kid you not. The system just couldn’t handle the eccentricity of old QN, could it? (That’s my story and I’m sticking with it.)
By the time I managed to get the blasted thing to work (gearing my responses to a less imaginative and more rudely partisan sensibility, ho ho ho) I was given a 68% match with the Democratic Left Movement.
“Thank God,” I thought, breathing a sigh of relief. “At least it’s one of the cooler fringe parties that can afford to remain principled because it has no power whatsoever.”
And then my heart sank.
Second on the list was the Future Movement, immediately followed by Amal and the Communist Party. Directly below them was a three-way tie between the FPM, the Kata’eb, and Jumblatt’s PSP.
And so it went. It seems that I am a 50%+ match with twenty-seven different parties, including the Lebanese Forces and Hizbullah (tied at 56%), Suleiman Frangieh’s Marada (60%) and the Nasserists (55%). One thing I apparently am not, is a Green Party supporter (11%), which is strange because I’m the only person I know in Beirut who has a kitchen full of empty plastic bottles awaiting the next trip to the recycling depot. I must be one of those phony environmentalist types… I hate those guys.