Hizbullah MP Nawwaf Moussawi offered a rare explanation of his party’s position on majoritarianism and what the Constitution has to say about how cabinets should be formed. Here’s the relevant bit:
“Yesterday, [Samir Geagea] asked whether or not a majority government was a constitutional government. We say that the Lebanese Constitution considers that if the government enjoys a majority in the parliamentary council, it can earn the vote of confidence.
However, the Lebanese Constitution also says that no power enjoys legitimacy if it goes against the Pact of Coexistence [Preamble, clause J]… A majority government in Lebanon is one which includes the [parties representing] sectarian majorities and not the majority of a sect or two, since that is against the Pact of Coexistence. Whoever wishes to form a majority government should see that the majority is that featured in the Pact and is not a majority of numbers.” (Translation by NOW Lebanon, with some modifications…)
This is very interesting. Moussawi is basically saying that there is a contradiction in the Constitution. On the one hand, a government can be formed on the basis of a simple majority vote in Parliament. However, unless that government is composed of the parties that command the most support among their own sects, the result is unconstitutional.
In other words, a “majority cabinet” is not one that can earn the confidence of the parliamentary majority, but rather one that can earn the confidence of the most popular sectarian parties. This is the meaning, apparently, of coexistence.
I have an article coming out in The National this Friday that deals with some of these issues, so stay tuned.