Articles - Addostour - Date: 2018-12-05
By: Oraib Al Rantawi

From the position of someone aware of the Lebanese scene's many domestic and foreign complexities that determine the behavior of its main parties and various 'nations and groups', I wish to focus on the consequences of the last parliamentary elections after adopting an electoral law based on proportional representation at the constituency level, as well as allowing voters to prioritize individual candidates on the list of their choice.

For the first time since their [1943] independence, the Lebanese had the opportunity to determine their various representative political forces' relative sizes and weights to a very reasonable degree of credibility and accuracy. The previous 'first-man-past-post' system enabled sectarian leaders to take all – or a large proportion – of the seats set aside for each sect, and to marginalize the other competing forces, and in fact largely eliminate them from parliament and the other political arenas.

The May 2018 elections' results have showed that the maximum that the Druze's traditional leadership (the house of Jumblatt) can claim to represent is no more than 60% of the sect's members. This means that 40% of the Druze's votes went to [current Druze leader] Walid Jumblatt's opponents and competitors. And that, in turn, means that the Druze's exclusive representation has been undermined and that other forces – regardless of how serious or trustworthy they may be – are now capable of competing with Jumblatt's leadership. This is especially relevant since the latter is on the threshold of a difficult phase of transition from the generation of 'Walid Bey' to that of his son, 'Timur Bey,' with no guarantees that this will be sufficient to preserve the special status of the Jumblatt-ist political leadership as it passes on from one generation on to the next.

At the same time, the elections that were held based on the new proportional representation law yielded shocking results for PM Sa'd Hariri and his Future Current. They lost around a quarter of the Sunnis' seats. Here, also, 'political Hariri-ism' seemed to be threatened with losing the leadership that it had been consolidating over the past three decades, thereby losing its exclusive representation of the Sunnis.

But both Hariri and Jumblatt have refused to recognize the elections' political results, even though they have not raised any legal or procedural objections to them. Both have continued to behave as if no elections have been held, and as if the balance of power had not changed. Jumblatt fought a ferocious battle to hang on to the three ministerial portfolios set aside for the Druze in the coming cabinet, and Hariri raised a slogan in which he claims to be 'the Sunnis' father'; one that he has never raised before, even at the height of his monopoly over the Sunnis' representation. Today, he refuses to grant a ministerial portfolio to a Sunni from outside his list in his long-awaited cabinet, which has yet to see the light of day even though seven months have passed since the elections.

Before Jumblatt and Hariri, Foreign Minister Jubran Bassil, the head of the Free Patriotic Current, which is President Michel 'Aoun's party, was fighting the battle of cutting Samir Geagea's Lebanese Forces Party down to size. The elections had granted the latter a large section of the Christians' representation. The party multiplied its seats in Parliament from inside the Christian community with no help from factors stemming from its alliances outside that community, as in the Free Patriotic Currents' case. The battle was fought under the name 'the Christian issue,' but ended in compromises and mutual concessions in the customary Lebanese manner, and the matter was shelved until further notice.

Only the Shiites maintained their representation in parliament with the 'Shiite duo' – the Amal Movement and Hezbollah – sharing the seats. No breaches were registered in this sect's electoral districts, and those referred to as 'the [non-sectarian independent] Third Current' failed to get any representatives into parliament – regardless of the various reasons that have been offered to explain or justify this outcome.

The results of last May's elections in Lebanon are still reverberating and giving rise to political and security repercussions in addition to many other factors and reasons that are preventing the formation of a new government.

And the main reason for this is that the elections' losers do not want to recognize their defeat.