Worried Lebanese

thought crumbs on lebanese and middle eastern politics

Now the blather is over, the real power issue appears

Posted by worriedlebanese on 10/06/2009

Five pillarsAs you might have noticed, dear reader, the whole electoral debate was extremely polarised. The national and international press and media presented it as a competition between two blocs: March XIV and March VIII Hezbollah. All the political pundits agreed that the electoral battlegrounds between the two camps were the Christian constituencies of historical Mount-Lebanon. This insistence eclipsed the fact that the Christian parties were actually fighting a war of their won. Sure there was a geopolitical (Iran/Syria vs US/KSA/Egypt) dimension to the battle, sure there was a “national” dimension to the battle (the competition between March XIV and March VIII), but what about the local and communal dimension. This dimension was hardly discussed at all.

Interestingly enough, the political actors  mentioned the three dimensions; they all stated that their approach was dual: national (Institutional reform for all… combatting corruption for some, defending national sovereignty for others) and communal (to strengthen and safeguard Christian rights for all). But as you can see, there is no much contradiction in their views and objectives… So their only strategy to distinguish themselves  from the other (and present the voter with a “substantive” choice) was to claim that their rival/foe had other motives (a hidden agenda, for instance) and that he was just a pawn in somebody else’s hand (i.e. directly or indirectly a regional power such as Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iran or the US). By doing so, both sides highlighted the geopolitical dimension of the conflict and obscured the other aspects. Their different alliances with members of the quadripartite oligarchy only highlighted this dimension because each member of the quadripartite alliance had a clear geopolitical positioning, and these regional allies were highlighting the importance of the geopolitical dimension!

But now that the battle was fought (lost and won by everyone), we can look at things more calmly and see more clearly into the real power issues of the electoral battle in historical Mount-Lebanon. The whole thing was about the consecration or the elimination of a potentially fifth pillar that could transform the oligarchy from quadripartite to pentapartite: this pillar was potentially there but wasn’t accepted as such by the other four pillars who all benefited from a power sharing formulae and a hold of political institutions that wasn’t directly related to their popular support (these other ressources are financial, control over part of the public administration, control of State ressources, control of a territory and local public and private institutions, military power, foreign backing…): that potential pillar is Michel Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement.

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