Worried Lebanese

thought crumbs on lebanese and middle eastern politics

What a Patriach brushes aside with a blink of an eye

Posted by worriedlebanese on 08/05/2007

In Saturday’s edition, the Orient-Le Jour stated in one of its headlines that the Maronite Patriarch brushed aside Michel Aoun’s proposition with a blink of an eye. The head of the FPM had proposed to modify the rules for electing the Lebanese President of the Republic. He suggested the next president be elected directly by the Lebanese people, by universal suffrage.
He is obviously betting on the fact that he is the most likely candidate to be elected were this amendment to the constitution adopted by the Chamber. On the other hand, his chances of accession to this post are particularly dim with the present rules of the game. So one could say that his motives are purely opportunistic. This is quite obvious, and rather expected for a candidate running for the post. But this isn’t a good enough argument to brush the proposition off.
Here is a proposition, a seemingly benign modification of the constitution (just one little article), that could affect the whole political system just as it had in France when it amended the constitution of the 5th Republic in 1962. Instead of seriously looking into the systemic change it would have, the solutions or problems that would ensue from its adoption, most analysts rejected it by stating the obvious: “it contravenes the present constitution”.
The Orient-Le Jour, in choosing such a title and such a focus to this topic thinks that the Patriarch not only has the authority to accept or reject a proposal made by a member of Parliament, but that his say has a moral and political weight that can condemn it to oblivion.
The proposition is in fact a very interesting one because it touches on many important political issues, most importantly the political clout of the presidency of the republic, its institutional function, the source of its legitimity and the democratic electoral principle in a consensus democracy.

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