Worried Lebanese

thought crumbs on lebanese and middle eastern politics

Elections in Lebanon – The continuance of the Doha effect -2

Posted by worriedlebanese on 08/05/2009

qatar - dialogue hall 3People usually speak of the Doha effect as a consequence, that of the military takeover of West Beirut by Hezbollah (and the later withdrawal). But it also had an unexpected effect, that of transforming the relationship between the Quadripartite oligarchy with its christian allies.

The Quadripartite oligarchy is composed of the dominant political groups during the Syrian mandate over Lebanon:  Nabih Berry’s Amal (i.e. Hope)  Movement, Hariri’s Future Movement, Jumblat’s Progressif Socialist Party and Hezbollah (under the commandment of Hassan Nasrallah). For over the decades, it had managed to dominate the political landscape through its alliance with Syrian political figures (i.e. the President and his men, and later his son…), through the recognition of its territorial power (true for Jumblatt in southern Mount Lebanon, Berry and Hezbollah in Southern Lebanon and the Beqaa. Less true for Hariri who had problems having it recognised), through its power over its community within the State’s institutions, and lastly, through a spoil system in which three of these groups split most of the Christian MPs between themselves, expanded their political weight in Parliament (sometimes doubling it) and hence took a larger share of the State’s ressources.

One would have expected this to change after the Syrian army’s withdrawal from Lebanon and the end of its Mandate, but it didn’t. Even though the March 14th alliance’s backbone was mainly Christian, its two members that belonged to the Quadripartite alliance treated the Christian parties as junior partners and maintained their Christian cronies (calling them independents) in parliament and the government, giving “them” the larger share (but actually keeping it for themselves).

Widening the Quadripartite oligarchy to Christian partners

After the Doha agreement, things changed. When the Shiite branch of the Quadripartite oligarchy started treating its ally, Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement, as a Senior Partner, the Druzo-Sunni branch of the oligarchy had to do the same. Even though none of the Christian partners have a real weight in the political system (neither economical, nor military, nor politically). They just benefited from the competition between the two branches of the oligarchy.

This unexpected effect of the Doha agreement after appearing in the formation of the government is being translated today in the parliamentary elections. Whatever the outcome of the elections is going to be on the Christian scene, one thing is sure, the Oligarchy’s allies are going to win (over the “independents”, “pseudo-independents”, Quadripartite christian affiliates…) on both sides, claiming (and bargaining for) their share in the system; and they’re going to be even more autonomous as before, with a larger share of power and State ressources.

2 Responses to “Elections in Lebanon – The continuance of the Doha effect -2”

  1. adonis49 said

    I like your partial analysis and expecting more details. Hezbollah has secured its dominance in the quadriparty any which way the election turns out. The best way for a balanced system is that the dominant and well organized Christian party of Tayyar manages to represent the Christian minorities after the election. Otherwise, the Taef will have to be revisited so that the three dominant sects of shiaa, sunny, and a combination of Maronite and Christian Orthodox share the power instead of the fictitious split between Christians and Moslems.
    The current international political landscape has changed for compromise and respecting the humiliated Arab populations so that a semblance of dignity preserved might tame the wave of irrational terrorisms. Thanks for effort of publishing.

    • Dear Adonis,
      I will soon publish a small post on the Free Patriotic Movement’s place in the regime shift. Probably tomorrow while discussing the case of Jezzine.
      I personally think that the political monopoly of one group over a community is dangerous and anti-democratic. The Christian situation in Lebanon is by far the sanest one today because such a dominant party doesn’t exist in their regions (mainly the effect of the Syrian Mandate and thanks to the quadripartite alliance in 2005). When I say sanest, I’m not using the superlative to mark the positive but the comparative. Why? because of the Hysteria that has followed the احباط (hopelessness and discontent) amongst the Christians of Lebanon.

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