Elections, Lebanon

Lowering the Voting Age: No Real Impact on Percentage of Christian/Muslim Voters?

Click to zoom.

So, as is well-known, many Christians in Lebanon are worried about lowering the voting age to 18, because they think that this will swell the ranks of Muslim voters in a disproportionate way. Or so say Abu Michel and Abu Samir…

However, an informed reader of Qifa Nabki has made an astute intervention that busts the myth. ElectionGuerilla writes:

It’s time to look closer at the numbers quoted in the Matt Nash/NOW Lebanon article that you refer to. I presume the numbers it uses are based on the the Ministry of the Interior’s 2009 voter register data, although it isn’t clear where the MOI’s data on the 18+ year olds come from.

But assuming that it’s good data, the article only details the increase in each confessional group. As this perspective shows a 8-9% increase in the number of Sunni/Shia voters, perhaps this article is being used as a ’semi-scare story’ to encourage Christians to block lowering the voting age, using the hoary old argument that they want it balanced by expat voting. (Haven’t they seen that the 2008 law guarantees that registered expat citizens will vote in the next parliamentary elections?)

A far more relevant consideration would be whether lowering the voting age has a significant impact on the electorate as a whole. And here, using the data from this article, there’s a very different picture.

* Sunnis go from 27.1% of all voters to 27.5% – an increase of 0.4%

* Shia go from 26.5% to 27.1% – a increase of 0.6%

* Maronites drop from 21.7% to 21.3% – a fall of 0.4%

and so on.

The overall ‘change’ is that the proportion of Muslim voters rises from 60% to 61% while the proportion of Christian voters falls from 40% to 39%. Hardly “a deluge of new voters [that] would upset Lebanon’s sectarian balance”.

The article also does not consider the ‘electoral impact’ of these changes, perhaps because it would be negligible. The new Shia or Sunni voters will mostly vote in electoral districts or municipalities where their families are already registered. Can anyone think of where any of last year’s election results would have been different had 18 year olds been able to vote?

In other words, despite what Abu Michel and Abu Samir think, lowering the voting age would make a negligible difference on the overall voting populations of each sect. The graph above expresses the change visually.

And before I forget, make sure to read Josh Hersh’s excellent article about Salah Ezzedine, the Lebanese Bernie Madoff whose Ponzi scheme impoverished many people, and even embarrassed Hezbollah.
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32 thoughts on “Lowering the Voting Age: No Real Impact on Percentage of Christian/Muslim Voters?

  1. Does the precision of these numbers mean that there’s no longer any reason for anyone to object to a new census (since the numbers are known already)?

    Posted by Benjamin Geer | February 5, 2010, 11:42 am
  2. Ben,

    Good question. I was going to respond and say that these figures reflect the voting population, not the actual population, and that it is entirely possible that there are many more members of one sect than another who are not registered voters.

    However, as far as I know, Lebanon does not have a voter registry separate from its civil registry. So the voting population is theoretically co-equal with the over-21 actual population.

    Theoretically… I will consult with some friends on this and get back to you.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | February 5, 2010, 12:13 pm
  3. This article by Mark Farha (which I have cited before) is highly worth reading.

    Here is the operative paragraph that deals with your query:

    “Analysts have pursued other methods of estimating the waxing and waning of Lebanon’s sectarian communities. The most widely cited reference is the list of registered voters published prior to the 2005 elections, which is 26.5% Sunni, 26.2% Shiite and 22.1% Maronite (lists published before the 1992, 1996, and 2000 elections display roughly the same proportions).[26] However, voter registration records, known as “check lists” (lawaih ash-shatb), only include adults age 21 or older and thus do not take account of the disproportionately Muslim (and perhaps disproportionately Shiite) youth. Moreover, Lebanese citizens are automatically counted as registered voters irrespective of whether they have emigrated. “

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | February 5, 2010, 12:29 pm
  4. So, I’m a bit confused here.
    Wouldn’t all these 18 to 20 years old voters all become eligible to vote in 3 years anyway?
    So is this all a delay of 3 years at most of this problem?

    What’s gonna be the response to this in 3 years time?

    Posted by babagannouj | February 5, 2010, 12:38 pm
  5. Do you see what religion does to people’s mind? We are here discussing about demography, sects and politics, instead of thinking of ourselves as LEBANESE first of all. Sex and politics anyone?

    Posted by Voice from Brazil | February 5, 2010, 1:06 pm
  6. babagannouj, the reason you are confused -and it seems your problem in general- is that you are trying to apply logic to this issue, please refrain from doing that.

    Posted by Pat | February 5, 2010, 1:35 pm
  7. QN,
    I am surprised at the patently wrong conclusion drawn from the data. I am sorry, but there is no other way of putting it. No wonder Disraeli is reputed to have said: There are three kinds of liars, liars, God damn liars and statistics”. I am sure what he meant is misinterpretation of statistics.
    Before I elaborate slightly on what is wrong with your conclusion or should I say Election Guerillas conclusion let me state for the sake of clarity and thise that are not familiar with my position s that it will be difficult to find anyone that is more pro secularism than I am, not even in France:-)
    In finance, unemployment, income distribution, profitability … what is singularly important is the marginal. All decisions for optimality in any field are based on the marginal and not the total for the simple reason that the total ultimately is nothing else but the summation of the marginals. And obviously it is the marginal that is more likely to project into the future. Just one simple example; global projections for poulation stability by the year 2050 are based only on the marginal fertility rate i.e. what is important is that the fertility rate is declining and thus we know that the global population if that trend is to continue would stablize.
    The same identical principle is at work in this example. The issue is not that the additional 200,000 votes are going to change radically the composition of the overall population but that the trend is very ominous for the sectarian backward thinking Christian Lebanese Ostriches. They think that by delaying the inevitable for three years then they could be saved by the miracle of “expat voting”. Somebody should tell Sfeir and others that “Deus ex Machina”
    is not encountered except in Greek tragedy:-)
    But to claim that they have no reason to worry is not supported by the fact. If you look at the marginal votes then it becomes clear that the Red pie grows grows the most becasue it accounts for 42% of the total marginal votes when the Blue pie grows by a slightly smaller proportion because Blue people account for only 40% of the marginal. The Purple pie on the other hand is shrinking at a fast rate. Purple people account for only 18% of the marginal pie.
    If this trend is to continue , and it will even pick up steam then the Purple pie will in the aggregate represent about 20 % of the total population in about 50 years or less.
    What I don’t understand is the refusal of the Christian leadership to recognize this fact and to support secularism instead of opposing it. Their machinations will ultimately backfire on the same constituents that they are supposedly trying to help. Why should anyone offer them a greater say than their numbers suggest? Don’t they realize that there is no logic for their “exceptionalism” short of a “superiority complex”?
    The numbers are hugely important and their significance about the future cannot be underemophasized. To this observor there is only one way out for Lebanon from this mess; stop sectarianism and develop a political identity separate from religion. Present and future electors must act for the collective good irrespective of gender, national origin, sexual orientation and yes religion. The government should not keep track of the population by their religious affiliations. But do not make the unsupportable statement that marginality is not important. It is the only important thing.

    Posted by ghassan karam | February 5, 2010, 6:54 pm
  8. All QN readers,
    I need to come clean and admit to a calculation error that I committed in the above post. I stand behind every word that I said but the exact calculations should reflect slightly different numbers.
    The marginal pie, should have the following composition:

    Sorry for that error.

    Posted by ghassan karam | February 5, 2010, 8:03 pm
  9. Ghassan,

    Your point about marginal rates is well taken when we consider the long-term effects, but I think that what ElectionGuerilla was trying to say was that in the short term, the difference in voting populations is negligible.

    Given that the debate in Parliament and in the press has seemed to focus on the short term consequences of the legislation, ElectionGuerilla’s intervention is actually quite helpful, because it puts the numbers into perspective. Christian politicians are portraying the measure as drastically changing the electorate, and this is simply not the case.

    The long term evolution of the communities’ numbers is important, but it is kind of irrelevant to the legislation about lowering the voting age. The Sunni and Shiite communities are going to grow larger than the Christian communities over time whether or not we lower the voting age.

    I’m not sure if I’ve made myself clear.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | February 5, 2010, 8:29 pm
  10. In other words, I don’t think that ElectionGuerilla would disagree with your analysis about what the current growth rates mean for the various communities, 50 years down the road.

    But being against lowering the voting age is not going to change that reality, and the Christian politicians know it. They’re not blocking it so that they can prevent their communities from shrinking 50 years from now. They’re blocking it because they want to prevent a large-scale disruption in the current electorate. And ElectionGuerilla was pointing out that the current electorate would barely be changed by this legislation.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | February 5, 2010, 8:35 pm
  11. QN,
    You know from the previous discussions on this blog and possibly others that I am definitely for lowering the voting age and deconfessionalism. All what I am saying is that the figures are a proof, if anyone needed one, that the current Christian leaders (the Maronites in particular) are a clueless , backward thinking bunch that will do whatever they have to to by some time hoping for a miracle. The miracle of expat voting will not save them.
    I understand their concern but I do not sympathize with them. The figures, both in the short run and in the long run dash all their hopes and plans to maintain their privilege.
    It will become increasingly difficult to rationalize the ridiculously unequal number of registered voters in predominantely Maronite districts vs. say, Shia districts. Well informed people will not put up with these shenanigans for much longer and giving the vote to the 18 years old will make this unequality for the non christians very obvious. The Nabatieh is already the most highly discriminated against even before one takes into consideration the additional Shia votes.
    I do not want to convey the notion that these figures are not important because they are and it is time that such figures are rubbed into the faces of the FPM, Kataeb, Frangieh and Sfeir. I believe that the Parliament should insist on lowering the voting age, possibly give the votes to the qualified expats and stop babying these Christian pols by always offering them power out of proportion to their numbers. It is time thaty sectarianism is abolished. Let the best nominees win. The only qualification should be their allegiance to the idea that the state deserves to exist.
    I guess that I object strongly to sweeping the long term implications under the rug in order to pacify the dinos. I would much rather confront them with the figures and demand radical change. All of us will gain from secularism but the benefit to the Maronite dinos will be the greatest. I don’t see how they can afford to obstruct the elimination of sectarianism or lowering the voting age.

    Posted by ghassan karam | February 5, 2010, 9:08 pm
  12. Before succumbing to an uncontrollable anti-communal fit (you should see somebody about it GK, it’s getting out of control), GK hit the nail on the head.

    The whole fuss isn’t about blocking the proposal to lower the voting age; it’s about presenting it as a sacrifice in order to negotiate a package deal that would include decentralisation and practical steps to encourage the participation of the lebanese diaspora in lebanese politics (access to nationality and possibility of voting from abroad). There is a very large consensus on these issues among Christian politicians and within the Christian public in general.

    One can see elements of this global package deal within most of the proposals and public speeches made by leading christian politicians (FPM, LF, Kataeb, NB, NLP, Baroud, “independents”…). And I believe it signals an interesting change in intercommunal political negotiations and possibly in lebanese consensualism.
    In more ways than one, the system is gradually becoming what it has been wrongly accused of being for over half a century. The most encouraging outcome of this change is that the anti-communal intellectuals will finally read the system right (not thanks to a learning process or observation, but simply because the system is evolving into what they have dogmatically accused it of being).

    Posted by worriedlebanese | February 5, 2010, 9:41 pm
  13. worriedlebanese

    Please elaborate on this point:

    “In more ways than one, the system is gradually becoming what it has been wrongly accused of being for over half a century. The most encouraging outcome of this change is that the anti-communal intellectuals will finally read the system right (not thanks to a learning process or observation, but simply because the system is evolving into what they have dogmatically accused it of being).”

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | February 5, 2010, 11:04 pm
  14. I haven’t slept for two days now, so I’m likely to be more tedious and less clear than usual. But i’ll give it a shot nevertheless.

    The Lebanese political system has always been accused of being sectarian because of its particular blend of legal pluralism and communal distribution of seats. Well, I argue that our institutions were never sectarian (whatever that derogatory word means). They were actually republican with a very limited opening to communalism. This limited opening was exploited by politicians in their political struggle (whether they did it under a communal banner like Pierre Gemayel or a non-communal “anti-sectarian” banner like Kamal Jumblatt) and it was expanded either by law (under Fuad Chehab who introduced it to the public administration) or by informal arrangements.

    Now these informal arrangements are extremely interesting to follow. At the beginning, even their communal features were actually republican: the parliamentary seat was reserved to individuals belonging to a specific community, but these individuals were neither legally nor socially representative of their community. They were simply representative of their region (mostly communally mixed) and legally they were the representative of the Lebanese nation (that’s their official title). With the advent National Pact, this same principle was expanded to include two presidencies: a seat was reserved for members of a specific community, but they were not representative of their community (neither politically nor legally), this is very true for Bechara el-Khoury, Riad Solh and Camille Chamoun. Karame, Salam challenged that idea when they demanded that the Prime minister be a representative of the sunni community. And that’s what they got ever since Fuad Chehab. The Christians have tried to do the same since, but have largely failed (except once, in 1982).
    This principle of seat reservation expanded in the 1950s for the speaker and throughout the 1960s and 1970s to include all administrative positions (but not the government). And starting in the 1960, ministers started pushing the principle of communal appointments within the administration by a communal leaders (established through violence in 1958). This feature is new and has no legal ground. And it didn’t become the rule until Elias Sarkis who seems to have refused on many occasion to appoint people within the administration without the approval of their communal leader. And it’s under Hraoui that all high ranking administrative posts became permanently attributed to members of specific communities appointed by “their” communal leaders (I have noted several rotations up to the mid 1980s).
    In the 1990s, we had the expansion of the informal seat reservation system by appointment of communal leaders to the municipal councils (most notably those of Beirut and Tripoli).

    So interestingly enough, the most prominent features of “confessionalism” are actually new and have no legal grounds. They are the result of informal political arrangements that are held together through communal mobilisation (usually associated with violence) and a patronage system that at first was cross-communal but became increasingly communal based. It’s through these informal arrangements that the country’s republican features have been erased, gradually transforming it into the initially erroneous image “anti-sectarian” intellectuals had of the country.

    Posted by worriedlebanese | February 6, 2010, 1:27 am
  15. GhassanKarem

    I agree with almost all that you raise. In fact, the reason I made my entire intervention was to show that the NOW Lebanon Article was acting as proof of the Disraeli principle: it was using one way of looking at the statistics to sell one side of the story. To be honest, so am I. My way looks at the same data they gave and comes out with what I hope is a very different conclusion to the article: that demographic changes are more gradual and with no significant impact on the electoral reality here.

    But I must dispute that it is somehow disingenuous of me to look at the total number of voters for my analysis. It was the article that used the phrase ‘sectarian balance’ and, to assess any impact on a balance, you must look at the total to see if the swing goes one way or the other. Imagine if we were looking only at ‘voting age’ as the statistical issue: looking at the marginals only, it would show an amazing increase in the number of 18-21 year old voters, while there would be no percentage change in the number of 21+ voters because their actual number is unaffected.

    Finally, my analysis used the data given by the NOW Lebanon article. These are actually inconsistent (e.g. the number of Armenian Orthodox actually drops when the voting age becomes 18, as if there are no Armenians in that age group). The data also differ (but not substantially) from the number of voters issued by the MOI for the last elections. The article also did not give the number of voters in the smaller confessional groups. I also question where the data on the confessional breakdown of 18-21 year old numbers comes from as there is no published information that I’m aware of. But, rather than come up with new data, I used the numbers given by the article to argue my case. This explains some of the percentage issues you raise in your second intervention.

    Posted by ElectionGuerrilla | February 6, 2010, 4:41 am
  16. Why is lowering the voting age considered a reform? There is a reason behind it being set at 21 in the first place, and the decision certainly wasn’t sectarian at the time. The legal gambling age is 21, so why not lower that too? What objective criteria come into play when considering whether or not an 18 year-old is mature enough to take part in a decision that will impact the whole society?

    There are so many other urgent reforms that are needed in the electoral system. Lowering the voting age — if that IS a reform — is certainly of a much lower priority. It is only being used to bolster the political leaders’ street cred in their own sects. The FPM, Kataeb & Co are using it to act as Christian-saviors, while Berri would like word to spread that he’s increasing “yelli min jamei3itna”. I guess the politicians themselves know that it wouldn’t have a great impact on the electorate as a whole, as showcased in the very interesting stats above, but they just want to use the issue for their personal gain. That is why the only numbers being peddled are “280,000 additional voters, 75% of which are Muslim”.

    Posted by mas | February 6, 2010, 5:33 am
  17. WorriedLebanese

    Very interesting ideas. But I’m curious by what you mean when you say: “the most prominent features of “confessionalism” are actually new and have no legal grounds.”

    How are they new? As far as I can tell, you locate the precedent for communal appointments in the 1960s. That’s 40-50 years ago. Are you saying that prior to 1958, the system was largely republican?

    Also, you don’t discuss the most striking feature of confessionalism: the parliamentary quotas established by the National Pact. The pact specifically stipulated that half of the Parliament would be Christian and half would be Muslim. It didn’t divide the parliament up into regional seats. The logic of confessionalism was built into the First Republic from its outset.


    Posted by Qifa Nabki | February 6, 2010, 8:41 am
  18. Confessionalism in Lebanon is the result of the National Pact of 1943. WR is right if what he means is that the Lebanese constitution does not mandate it but it does not prohibit it either. That is why it cannot be termed illegal.
    Q, the original agreement prior to Taef was 6:5 in favour of the Christians. Tacit understandings ,similar to the National Pact, are not uncommon.

    Posted by ghassan karam | February 6, 2010, 9:04 am
  19. Yes, of course. 6:5. Thanks.

    But I think WL’s point was that Lebanon has been republican rather than confessional for most of its history.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | February 6, 2010, 9:08 am
  20. Although, I don’t see that there is any necessary contradiction between calling Lebanon a confessional republic.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | February 6, 2010, 9:11 am
  21. Hey QN

    I believe such a label could be misleading because it hides the dynamics within the system and the direction in which it evolved.

    My hypothesis is that the French left us with an extremely jacobine republican state that integrated very clumsily and uncomfortably two communal principles (legal pluralism and communal seat allocation). But even those elements were interpreted in a republican way (the principle of equality between all communal legislation and the principle of national representation). And if you look into our constitution, you won’t find a “confessional state” but a “republican state” trying to cope with a pluralistic society and hoping to eradicate difference as soon as possible.

    But pundits have always misread our system, ignored its republican character and denounced it as being “confessional”, and by this word they meant contradicting all republican values, annulling citizenship, discriminatory, instituting personal federalism, dividing the state into communal territories and fiefdoms… These features were mostly untrue (or inaccurate or unverifiable) for the period between 1926 and 1958. But they are becoming truer and truer as time goes by. And this process is certainly not due to our constitutional text, and it wasn’t done through parliament (the only place where there was a communal scheme to start with). It was mostly done through informal arrangements (between warlords). And most of these arrangements either contradict a constitutional principle (or rule) or subverts the legal order.

    When Walid Jumblatt, or Michel el Murr or Nabih Berri or Rafic Hariri appoint people in local or national administrations because they belong to their community and/or because they are working in an area (functional or territorial) that they control (informally), they are completely subverting the legal order, they are instituting informal and rigid rules that are contra legem.
    Bechara el-Khoury or Riad el Solh couldn’t have applied these informal rules even if they wanted to. This could only be done through the gradual erosion of the republican principles that they certainly participated in.
    When the Prime Minister asks the Maronite Patriarch to name a President (or at least hand the parliament a short list of candidates) he is not applying the state’s confessional system, he is subverting the state’s republican order and the principle of separation between state and church (which is a heritage of the Ottoman Empire). But as the system has been mistakenly qualified as “confessional”, people consider it both “legal” and “normal”… If a behaviour becomes generalised it is perceived as “normal” (as in “habitual” and the “norme”), but you can’t blame the state’s institutions or its legal principles for that (what people commonly refer to as “confessionalism”). If someone has to be blamed it is the politicians who generalise that conduct, and the organic intellectuals who consider this conduct “normal”.


    Posted by worriedlebanese | February 6, 2010, 11:45 am
  22. Ghassan,

    you ask a very good question ‘What I don’t understand is the refusal of the Christian leadership to recognize this fact and to support secularism instead of opposing it.’
    My personal belief is that it boils down to sheer selfishness on the part of the current Christian leadership. They are not willing to lose a little bit today for the greater good in the future. Instead they choose to put the headache on their successors 20 years down the line.

    I am also high skeptical that muslims will accept a new electoral system that allows the Lebanese Diaspora to vote if it will tip the balance in favor of Christians. So while the stalling might be a tactical move on part of the Christians to negotiate some sort of package as suggested by worriedlebanese, it’s probably a futile attempt considering that muslims have time in their favor

    Posted by Innocent Criminal | February 6, 2010, 6:16 pm
  23. What ever system the Lebanese chose they are better off having a system that protect minority rights and allow any Lebanese to be president , prime minster, speaker of the parliament , religion should be secondary , i see no reason to have set a side and quotas , there should be no problem to have a president and prime minster who are Muslims or Christians,
    there should be no disqualification to any position because of religious affiliation ,that will be better for all religious groups on the long run ,

    Posted by norman | February 6, 2010, 11:34 pm
  24. Hey, Innocent Criminal

    I believe there is another element that we haven’t mentioned up to now and that could explain some of our politician’s actions. In this exchange we’ve been concentrating on electoral issues and supposing that our politicians only bicker “thematically” (within the confines of one issue), which they don’t.

    One of the central issues today is on the political appointments in the public administration. And such matters are not much discussed in public. And when this is done, it’s done indirectly through bickering that could seem nonsensical and ego-driven, and through other issues (with this principle in mind: “You don’t give me what i want, i will upset some of your political plans or lose face). And I think one of the reasons why there is so much debate over the municipal elections is precisely because of that. It is no coincidence that the FPM is the one making a lot of noise. Michel Aoun’s party has been the one challenging the mu7asasa rules devised under the Syrian occupation. And today, it’s asking for two things: an increase of the share of christian nominations, and the extension of the communal rule in appointments to the Christian leaders. And you know that we’re talking about several dozen senior appointments and at least the double for junior appointments (Ministry of Interior and Foreign Affairs…).

    And the Zu’ama have completely neutralised the official mechanisms for those appointments. Instead of dealing with appointments one administration at a time through proposals made by the minister responsible for that administration and getting the approval of the cabinet, the zu’ama have devised another system that deals with “package deals and several informal rules: each Za’im appoints from within his community and patronage network, each asserts geographical or functional control over an administration and names people within it, and muslim zu’ama split half of the christian posts amongst themselves. Now the FPM has neutralised this last rule quite affectively, but hasn’t up to now much profited from that (most of the christian appointments it seems have been favourable to the Lebanese Forces even if the issue was brought up by the FPM).

    Posted by worriedlebanese | February 6, 2010, 11:36 pm
  25. Worried Lebanese, the issue is obviously bigger than elections and relates to the maintenance of power and access to power. It’s helpful if we recognize that many of the arguments related to the debate on electoral reform stem purely from this kind of political self-interest. As much as anything, the issue of expat voting shows this.

    The argument is that expat voting would ensure ‘sectarian balance’.

    First: Numbers The voter register already includes all the citizens who have the right to vote, whether they are resident here or not. No new expat voters will be added unless Lebanon changes its citizenship laws.

    Second: Impact. Under the current electoral system, or any new system that uses ‘regional districts, I would argue that expat voting – like lowering the voting age – will have limited confessional impact on the results. Christian expats will cast ballots for the districts where they are already registered and, in most cases, will have the chance only to vote for Christian MPs; something similar applies to Muslim expats. There are only a few areas that are sufficiently ‘multi-confessional’ that expat voting (like voting age) could conceivably make a confessional difference.

    In fact, the major impact of allowing expat voting is that it would probably increase voter turnout in districts where a sizeable proportion of the electorate lives overseas. And this is the key: increasing voter turnout has a major impact on the “intra-confessional” politics of Lebanon. The reason why LF wants expat voting is not just that they simply want Christians to vote: they believe that expat voting allows their party to have a better chance of winning more votes than their opponents in Christian districts. That’s also why Kateab want it. That’s also why FPM wants it. And that’s also why Amal, Hezbollah and Future MPs – also parties with large constituencies overseas – supported the idea when it was debated in parliament in 2008.

    Experiences of expat voting around the world shows that it is established or radicalized parties who benefit most from it, rather than independent or non-affiliated candidates, whose popularity usually rests on their local reputation in a community. This is especially the case if the parties have organized structures overseas, as do all Lebanese parties.

    That doesn’t mean I think expat voting is a bad idea. I support it, especially if it ensure all Lebanese citizens get the right to vote. It’s just that i’d prefer to see some more logic and honesty in the wider political debate and not just on this blog.

    Posted by ElectionGuerrilla | February 7, 2010, 6:16 am
  26. ElectionGuerrilla,
    The potential impact of newly registered voters will not affect the sectarian balance given the current geographic distribution. But new voters could have a major influence within some electoral districts. A quick review of the last Parliamentary election reveals that if the current alliances are to be maintained then the winners won by a substantial prportion of the vote except within essentially “Christian” districts where the less than 1000 votes separated losers from winners. The two most obvious examples are Kisrwan and Metn. Even the Batroun the margin of victory was around 3000.

    But allow me to mention another pointin regards to expat vote. I have often maintained that the issue will not be a game changer like what the Christian leaders would like us to believe for two reasons. (1) As you have mentioned more than once the current law will not extend the vote to anyone who is not on the electoral lists already. We all know the exact numbers of potential voters in each district. The numbers will not change irrespective of whether we extend the vote to expats or not. The participation will be affected in some areas. (2) To extend the vote and not provide meaningful access is a cruel hoax. If we are to assume that there are say, one million officially registered Lebanese who are abroad and who are eligible to vote. Do we really expect all of them to travel, in some cases for thousands of miles, to one of the Lebanese Embassy/Consulate in order to stand in line and cast physically a vote? Don’t get me wrong, the eligible expats should get the right to vote but it is equally important to consider increasing the access substantially. I know of no other way to accomplish that other than a mail in vote short of an electronic one.:-) And you know the likelyhood of having any of these options adopted prior to “hell freezing” lol.

    Parliamentary seat distribution and civil service job appointments , in addition to the tacit understanding about the religious affiliation of the top three elected posts in the government,that are not based on meritorious grounds are all part of the same rotten apple of confessionalism.
    It is also important to note that the system has become so well entrenched that the current leadership has adapted to it and gets its legitimacy from it. That is why it is unrealistic to expect any meaningful reform from those who owe their power to the current arrangement.

    Posted by ghassan karam | February 7, 2010, 8:05 am
  27. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_Lebanon

    from this data…

    Shia muslim is not 35% in lebanon.
    they are just 27% 🙂

    Sunni also 24%(or 26%)

    No one, No where say that Maronite christian 15% in lebanon.
    At least 25%.

    You just bring a fake or old data.
    Lebanon isn’t muslim state…
    From now and then.

    Posted by umm | February 11, 2010, 5:27 am
  28. umm,
    How can you give a reference and not read it? Well, apparently you did. Scroll down to “Religious Population Statistics” and.

    Posted by ghassan karam | February 11, 2010, 9:06 am
  29. well, it seems you play the same politics, just some steps down the ladder.

    Posted by Alberto | February 11, 2010, 1:36 pm
  30. Shi’a Muslims are 35% [14] or 25% [15] of the total population

    Sunni Muslims constitute 24%[14] or 25%[15] of the total population. Sunni notables traditionally held power in the Lebanese state together, and they are still the only sect eligible for the post of Prime Minister.

    The Maronites are the largest of the Christian groups. They have had a long and continuous association with the Roman Catholic Church, but have their own patriarch, liturgy, and customs. Traditionally they had good relations with the Western world, especially France and the Vatican.[citation needed] They traditionally dominated the Lebanese government, and the President of Lebanon is always Maronite. Their influence in later years has diminished, due to their relative decrease in numbers, but also due to the Syrian occupation of Lebanon, which generally benefited Shi’a and other Muslim communities, and was resisted by most Maronites. Today the Maronites are believed to compose nearly 25.2% of the population, scattered around the Lebanese countryside but with heavy concentrations on Mount Lebanon and in Beirut.

    yeah~ Definitely I read it. 🙂

    so now you know Sunni muslim isn’t 34% and neither Shia do.

    Both are just 49%~60%.

    Posted by um | February 12, 2010, 3:33 am
  31. i think that tennagers should have the right ot express their opionion to who they want to be in office just as well as parents

    Posted by nick harvey | March 9, 2010, 10:10 am


  1. Pingback: Giving Expats the Vote: No Real Impact on “Sectarian Balance”? « Qifa Nabki | A Lebanese Political Blog - February 8, 2010

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