Elections in Lebanon – The continuance of the Doha effect -2
Posted by worriedlebanese on 08/05/2009
People 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.