Worried Lebanese

thought crumbs on lebanese and middle eastern politics

Government composition… a closer look.

Posted by worriedlebanese on 10/11/2009

photo of the govermentWhat can we learn from the result? Let’s have a quick look at the picture of the new government to see what’s new, and what trend has been confirmed. Once this is done, we’ll have a glance on some basic rules that were followed in this 4 month long process of government formation.

What’s new:

  • Less than 1/3 of the ministers hail from the parliament.
  • Only three parties chose to be represented by their MPs: the PSP (3 ministers), the Hezbollah (2 ministers) and Ramgavar (1 minister extremely close to the Future Movement). The Future Movement (3 ministers), the Free Patriotic Movement (3 ministers), Amal (2 ministers), the Lebanese Forces (2 ministers), Kataeb (1 minister), Marada (1 minister) and Tashnag (1 minister) chose non parliamentarians to represent them.
  • Hariri is the only Za’im in the government. But two other Za’im are represented by their most trusted aids (Michel Aoun by Gibran Bassil, Amin Gemayel by Selim Sayegh)
  • The presidential share in government (that has no bases in either the constitution or democratic parliamentarian principles) is increased to 5 and includes two muslim ministers.

Trends confirmed

  • Global shares are determined from the onset of the process: after the 16-11-3 formula of 2008, the 15-10-5 formula of 2009.
  • The President of the Republic has a share in government even if he doesn’t have a party in parliament (and even though no constitutional text provides for such a share).
  • The President of the Republic doesn’t have any facilitating function in the formation of the government (no mediation, no arbitration).
  • The patronage networks and communal Zaim are represented by ministers belonging to their community, even if they have a cross-communal representation in parliament. The Democratic Gathering is solely represented by the PSP its Druze core). Berri and Jumblatt are deprived yet another time from Christian ministers.
  • The Christian parties and communal patronage networks have a larger share in government (and in “important” portfolios).
  • Female ministers. As expected, we have one extra female minister (if the Marada had stuck to their original choice we would have had three female ministers!).
  • Lack of rotation in portfolios. No sovereignty portfolios changes hand. Defence and Interior Ministries stay in the presidential share (and with the same ministers), Foreign affairs stays with Amal and Finance stay with Future Movement. Justice stays with the Lebanese Forces (same minister). As for the service portfolios, Energy and Telecom stay with Aoun’s bloc. Education stayed with Mustaqbal but changed hands. Agriculture and Industry stayed with the “opposition”, Public work and Agriculture stayed with the same ministers (PSP and Amal respectively).

Rules of this particular game

  • Choice of ministers: Each party chose its own ministers once it was attributed a share and a portfolio. The President and Prime Minister had no say in the choice. This rule knew of no exception (the principle that “candidates who lost in the parliamentary elections couldn’t join the government”, was not taken into account).
  • Choice of portfolios: This is done through negotiation between the Prime Minister and each individual party backed by its coalition partners.
  • Choice of participating parties: This is done by each mega-coalition. The self-titled “opposition” chose to be represented by 3 large blocs (5 political parties), excluding two other parties that are part of the coalition. The self-titled “majority” chose to be represented by 4 parliamentary blocs and 3 “independent” MPs (Boutros Harb, Mohamad Safadi, Michel Pharaon).
  • Type of negotiation: mostly secret with a lot of polemics nurtured by low ranking politicians (mostly christian politicians belonging to the LF, the FPM and Mustaqbal blocs).

Should any rule be derived from the process and result? we’ll see that tomorrow with a look at the “Government formation… what lessons learnt”

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