Dr. MacQueen is a senior lecturer in the Department of Politics and International Relations in the School of Social Sciences at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. This work was supported by the Australian Research Council [DP130100933].
Lebanese politics is often, if not exclusively, articulated through the concept of "consociational" democracy. While most observers also agree that this system has been inadequate in containing instability and violence, there is little questioning of its basis. Arguments fall into two categories: either the country is seen as prone to instability and conflict because the consociational model doesn't work well enough, or the consociational model itself is flawed. I argue that the consociational model is not, and has not historically been, an appropriate analytical guide to understanding Lebanese politics. That is, where consociationalism might serve as an aspiration, it provides minimal utility in analyzing and understanding the dynamics of Lebanese politics. Specifically, this article will highlight how key features of consociationalism are missing in Lebanon; namely, institutional constraints on elite decision making, a proportional electoral system, severe regulation of and exclusion from political participation for the majority of the population, and dysfunctional government and coalition structures. This can be most starkly seen in the debate over electoral-law reform. An analysis of the inertia surrounding political reform in Lebanon, typified by failed efforts at reforming the electoral system, reveals a subtle but critical mutual dependency between political elites and the confessional system in which they operate and which sustains their dominance.
Lebanese politics does not represent a system that maintains segmentation to ensure the participation of all groups in order to maintain a modicum of stability and cooperation (consociationalism). It is rather a system that guarantees political power to a fixed group of elites who actively work to exclude challenges to their communal domination or to the system that maintains it. This is a political environment characterized by restriction, not openness. As such, the analytical utility in assessing the Lebanese political system as a partial, incomplete or even faulty model of consociational democracy needs to be questioned. Certainly, Lebanon possesses democratic institutions. However, these institutions grant only a modicum of participation and, critically, are resistant to reform efforts that may expand political participation.
Consociational democracy is part of a family of approaches to power sharing in transitional societies, a model of governance aimed at managing ethnic, sectarian and other potentially conflicting allegiances within a single state structure.1 It focuses on consensus building among elite representatives of these groups, managed through negotiations, bargaining and a tailored set of political institutions. For its chief architect, Arend Lijphart, the consociational democratic model is an effort to both identify how power-sharing arrangements within divided societies work and to provide guidance in transforming fragmented political societies into stable, inclusive democracies.2 Lijphart's rationale rests on a view that conventional, majoritarian, democratic models are not appropriate for societies characterized by sharp cleavages, as these systems work to amplify social and political divisions. Instead, there are many societies where pluralist and segmented elites operate through formal power-sharing political institutions, whether based on consociation or consensus.3
This form of democracy crystallizes around four features. First, governments are formed on the basis of grand coalitions comprising many parties that represent divergent sectarian interests and backgrounds. Second, the composite sectarian groups have the right to a mutual veto over decision-making processes, where the potential for decision-making inertia is offset by the desire of sectarian elites to ensure the survival of the system. Third, parliamentarians are elected according to proportional representation as a way to ensure the maximum representation of different communities. This allows for highly concentrated, often confidential, decision-making processes that assist in facilitating compromise in a fragmented political environment. Fourth, there are high degrees of autonomy among groups in areas such as education, culture and, potentially, civil law. Arrangements such as these have been implemented in the Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, Austria, Malaysia, South Africa, Northern Ireland, Cyprus and recently in Macedonia, Iraq and Fiji in an effort to implement a form of "centralized national bargaining" to "turn a democracy with a fragmented political culture into a stable democracy."4 That is, elites can exercize a degree of agency that enables them to overcome the strong tendency toward instability or decision-making inertia characteristic of divided societies. This agency requires an awareness of the fragilities of the system, a commitment to the system's survival, an ability to negotiate across ethnic, sectarian or other cleavages, and an ability to accommodate demands of all groups where elite accommodation is essential to the proper functioning not only of the system but of a regulated democracy.5
This approach first emerged during the 1950s and 1960s out of efforts to understand participatory and democratic political systems that did not conform to the majoritarian styles of Western Europe and North America but appeared to be stable.6 The core of this approach centers on "actor-related models and elite behaviour," with elite actions as central to "counteract the immobilizing and unstabilizing effects of cultural fragmentation."7 Here, sectarian elites work within a proportional political system that allows subnational communal political representation (political parties explicitly representing sectarian groups) to exercise a high degree of autonomy and be formally represented in the political system.8 This differed from the majoritarian-based systems dominant in Europe and North America at the time, and became a prescriptive approach to conflict resolution in divided societies in Europe and, later, elsewhere.
This was not without criticism, largely around three aspects of the model.9 The first of these emphasized the need for a centripetal approach to divided societies that can "pull the parties towards moderate, compromising policies and to discover and reinforce the centre of a deeply divided political spectrum."10 That is, subnational allegiances need to be mitigated through "cross-cutting electoral incentives" rather than reinforced through sectarian-based political parties and allegiances.11 The second critiqued the elite focus of consociational models: "The assumption that elites in divided societies are likely to be more tolerant of other groups or less inclined to pursue advantage for their own group is extremely dubious."12 Finally, as a result of these problems, the consociational approach was criticized for avoiding the "abolition of ethnic conflict," and instead perpetuating and formalizing social divisions.13
Elections and electoral systems are thus critical points where this form of governance is operationalized. In relation to postconflict or conflict-prone environments, they serve as integral components of consociational models to "give a modicum of legitimacy and credibility" to fragile political institutions where "there remains no alternative, feasible mechanism to test for the legitimacy of a state."14 As described above, this requires the use of specific models, notably proportional representation and elite management, for the power-sharing consociational model to function. This is a delicate balance, with an effort to find equilibrium between providing stability and ensuring inclusiveness.15 However, the electoral system has served a different purpose in Lebanon, in that it works to severely manage or actively exclude popular participation and entrench control of a fixed set of confessional elites. Postconflict electoral systems are consciously designed to straddle the tension between "peace as a precondition for democracy" and "democracy as a precondition for peace."16 However, this becomes muddier when electoral systems have been a feature of the political landscape before, during, and after conflict and have, at times, been the source of conflict, as in Lebanon. In what may be seen as a case of mistaken identity, elections and control over debates managing electoral design have served the primary purpose of enshrining political exclusion rather than being a mechanism for managing conflict.
INERTIA AND EXCLUSION
This article does not seek to assess the merits of consociationalism as a model for managing divided societies. Nor does it seek to critique partial or incomplete consociational systems against an ideal type. Instead, it builds on earlier arguments proposed by both Horowitz and Haddad that, when isolated as an analytical rather than as a prescriptive concept (consociationalism for analysis rather than as an aspiration), Lebanon's power-sharing arrangements are not consociational.17 Instead, power sharing in Lebanon sustains a closed political system, one that actively resists efforts at implementing reform to enhance popular political participation. Despite this, the focus on Lebanon as an example of consociational governance stems from arrangements established on independence, where the 1943 National Pact in Lebanon was seen to establish "corporate consociationalism as the de jure power-sharing arrangement between the various confessions with the state."18 It was argued, or assumed, that these nascent institutions of the Lebanese state corresponded to the features of consociationalism with clear political divisions, a multifaceted power-sharing arrangement, public acquiescence to this, and the lack of an activist foreign policy. Certainly, while Lebanon has features of democratic governance, the ability of this arrangement to serve as representative or participatory is severely mitigated.
Lebanon's electoral system is based on the principle of confessionalism, with representation in the unicameral parliament organized around an intricate system of religious quotas. This system has undergone, and mostly resisted, efforts at reform since its original articulation in 1926 and its enshrinement with Lebanese independence in 1943. The National Pact (al-mithaq al-watani) of 1943 represented a compromise between the country's Maronite Catholic and Sunni Muslim communities, allowing for a permanent Christian representation in parliament (at a ratio of six Christian members for every five Muslim members) in exchange for Maronite acceptance of Lebanon as an Arab state, the so-called "double-negation agreement."19 In addition, political posts were reserved for members of key confessional groups.20 From its genesis, therefore, the Lebanese institutions of governance were based on an "informal agreement," a bargain among sectarian leaders that sought a pact over the "lowest common denominator shared by independence leaders" with external consent.21 Indeed, as el-Khazen goes on to point out, the pact itself was in part built on the unfounded belief that this "elite consensus reflected grass-roots communal support."22
Putting aside modifications around suffrage and compulsory voting, the Lebanese electoral system has undergone one significant modification since 1943: the 1960 electoral-law reforms. This is worth emphasising, as there have been repeated efforts to modify aspects of the confessional system in addition to the aspiration, as stated in Section H of the preamble of the Lebanese constitution, for the complete "abolition of political confessionalism." Since 1922, there have been 19 parliamentary elections in Lebanon: five between 1922 and 1937 prior to independence in 1943, nine between 1943 and 1972 before the outbreak of the 1975-90 civil war, and five between 1992 and 2012. The first two elections after independence (1943 and 1947) were held under regulations implemented by the French during the League of Nations mandate administration.23 Lebanon's first post-independence electoral law was implemented in 1950, with amendments and reforms in 1952, 1953, 1957, 1960, 1992, 1996, 2000 and 2008. The 1960 electoral law was the most seminal, establishing 26 small, multimember electoral districts (qadaa), with the number of members ranging from two to eight.24 This law also increased membership in the unicameral parliament from 66 to 99, a number that increased again, from 99 to 128, at the end of the Lebanese civil war. The 1960 law also enshrined a majoritarian winner-take-all electoral system across the country.25
In its most recent incarnation, the 128-seat parliament is divided between 64 Christian and 64 Muslim members, with each confessional allocation of seats further divided between seven and four subgroups, respectively.26 The design of this electoral system is based on five principles. First, those contesting seats must be members of the confessional group to which each particular seat is allocated. Second, a person, regardless of confessional membership, can vote for any candidates. Third, and following from this, a person can vote for some or all of the candidates for each seat. Fourth, these votes are located on a single (blank or pre-printed) ballot. Fifth, candidates are elected according to the majoritarian first-past-the-post system, in which candidates gain their confessionally allocated seats by gaining the most votes allocated to that confessional candidate.27 This arrangement is based on an assortment of principles drawn from the 1943 National Pact, the 1960 law, the 1989 Taif Agreement, a succession of electoral-law reforms (most notably of 2000) that have been partially implemented, and ad hoc agreements such as the 2008 Doha Accords.28
Despite a range of proposals aimed at implementing key reforms such as proportional representation, a bicameral parliament and consolidation of larger electoral districts (mohafaza, rather than the smaller qadaa), the 1960 law has been used in successive elections. From 1992, members were elected by a majoritarian multisectarian list system that forced the various sectarian groups to create alliances and form an electoral list in accordance with the sectarian quota allocated to each electoral district. However, voters have been able to modify the lists by crossing out or adding candidates of their choice while maintaining the sectarian balance of the ticket.29 A first-past-the-post system was used for each qadaa, so a candidate did not have to win a majority of votes; in qadaas with multiple lists running, a significant dilution of the votes was required for victory.30 This has hindered the emergence of new parties and coalitions, as the hold of the major groups on electoral financing and publicity has meant that any new party would be at a significant disadvantage in challenging the status quo — in addition to essentially lowering the threshold for victory for dominant parties, should they run.
This pattern has been amplified in postwar elections, where, for instance, the average candidates per seat increased from 2.6 in 1960 to 5.5 by 1996.31 In addition, Salam documented electoral results from 1964 to 1996 in the Baalbeck/al-Hermel qadaa that saw winning electoral lists obtain between 22 and 32 percent of the total vote.32 Similarly, in the first postwar elections in 1992, only one of 19 candidates across all lists in Beirut's three electoral qadaa won more than 50 percent of the vote. It was worse in the North Lebanon qadaa that saw only one of 28 candidates polling over 50 percent.33 Compounding this, the boundaries of the qadaa were divided to ensure Christian overrepresentation in parliament, largely at the expense of the Shia population.
In addition, widespread gerrymandering ensured that these electoral districts were drawn in a manner that essentially guaranteed success for the dominant sectarian parties. In particular, the small districts facilitated personalized politics and vote buying. This list system also served to ensure only ad hoc groupings where these alliances "unravel as soon as the elections end, leaving no trace."34 Indeed, these temporary alliances collapsed as agreements were often violated, enshrining mistrust between the dominant political groups, as well as widespread disillusionment with efforts to create a more inclusive political system.35 This has been a persistent problem; the 1960 law has been criticized for serving as a "barrier to the expanding of the politically relevant elite" and for failing to "integrate many of the increasingly popular movements into the formal government structures."36 That is, while existing electoral systems have perpetuated instability and exclusion, they have been consistently reinforced to ensure elite control over the political system.
Perhaps the most obvious area where Lebanon differs from consociational models of governance is in relation to proportional representation. Such systems are a central tenet of consociational governance, designed to ensure that "the number of seats each party wins reflects as closely as possible the number of votes it has received," with nonproportional, or majoritarian, systems focusing on "ensuring that one party has a clear majority of seats over its competitors" as a means to avoid governmental deadlock.37 Proportional representation has been the preferred option of constitutional design, particularly in postconflict environments.38 This preference was echoed in both the 1943 National Pact and more strongly in the 1989 Taif Agreement that saw the implementation of proportionality as a priority.39 However, repeated efforts at implementing proportionality in Lebanon have been foiled, largely to protect the interests of the shrinking Christian voting bloc.40 These reform efforts have been scuttled by all major political groupings, even when reforms along this line would benefit these specific groups, notably the Shia community. Indeed, the provisions of many reforms (particularly 2008) contain trade-offs to the Christian community in terms of guarantees that districts containing a majority of Christian seats will have a majority of Christian voters. This violates Article 24 of the constitution: rather than geographical proportionality, it ensures the continual involvement of Christian political elites, effectively making "a Muslim vote worth less than a Christian vote."41
From the 2008 electoral reforms, 13 of Lebanon's electoral districts are now mono-confessional, a response to long-standing Christian complaints that their deputies are being elected by Muslims in Muslim-majority areas.42 A major outcome of this change is that Christians (40 percent of registered voters) now "control" a larger number of Christian seats (47 out of 64 of which are now in Christian-majority areas), ensuring that they wield disproportionate control of the national vote.43 This has led to further voter inequality in Lebanon; it was already pronounced, given the over-representation of Christians in parliament combined with the ongoing underrepresentation of the Shia.
Along with proportionality, electoral districting has also served as a tool for the disenfranchisement of voters and the maintenance of elite control. For instance, as Salloukh has identified, no electoral reform processes since the end of the civil war in 1990 have facilitated confessional inclusiveness or foundational cooperation. The trend instead has leaned toward blatant gerrymandering for the benefit of party elites:
With the use of simple plurality to determine the winners among the different sects in each district, the size of the electoral districts, namely the proportion of Muslim to Christian votes, is the determining factor in the elections, a structural constant shared by both pre- as well as postwar electoral systems; postwar electoral laws thus provide no incentive for ethnic engineering and accommodation through the negotiation of durable interethnic political alliances. The result is elections by mahadel [rollers] sweeping all or almost all seats in a given electoral district, and divesting elections of their institutionalized uncertainty and margin for competition and contestation.44
Despite efforts toward reform of the balloting process in 2005 and 2009, this practice remains open to blatant manipulation. Specifically, there are no official pre-printed ballots for parliamentary elections. Instead, voters are able to write their own, or, as observed by the EU observer mission at the 2009 elections, voters simply deposited ballots pre-printed by political parties.45 This practice not only undermined the secrecy of an individual's voting; it also facilitated large-scale vote buying. While this was a key point of focus in reform debates through 2008, it was omitted from the official Boutros Commission report on electoral reform in 2009, enabling established parties to manipulate voting across the country through the tracing of votes and direct distribution of these pre-printed ballots. The result has been the maintenance of an electoral system that resists proportional representation. As a result, the power-balancing processes at work in Lebanon further insulate the confessional elites from challenges to their political domination but leave the majority of the community without any means to contest it.
DYSFUNCTION AND ELITE DECISION MAKING
Other key areas where Lebanon differs from consociational models of governance include the dysfunction of governmental activity and the sustainability of coalitions, as well as institutional constraints on elite decision making. Functional grand coalitions are essential to the maintenance of consociational systems; mutual vetoes between coalition parties are designed to avert decision-making inertia in these systems. However, institutional constraints on decision making in Lebanon perpetuate the political stasis to ensure continued elite domination. Here, Lebanon represents a form of hybrid regime, one defined by a mutually reinforcing relationship between sectarian political elites and weak but resilient political institutions that work to ensure highly regulated and restricted popular participation. Certainly, politics in Lebanon is deeply divided, with state institutions existing in a condition of paralysis, particularly since 2007. In this environment, political elites often strike bargains that are against the interests of their constituencies in order to ensure the survival of the superstructure of confessional politics. While this may be interpreted as a form of elite bargaining akin to the dynamics within consociational models, it is argued that this represents a normative constraint on the decisions of elites as they see their interests maximized, and their survival underwritten, by the continuation of the system. This is a constraint that can help predict seemingly counterintuitive decision making in a highly fluid political environment.
The formation of the modern party system in Lebanon is illustrative of this. It is only of recent vintage, with elections prior to the 1975-90 civil war fought largely among loose political groupings, with candidates running as independents. As el-Khazen has outlined, this is a legacy of the particular dynamics of the transition from French Mandate rule to independence.46 The party system itself solidified during the 1992 and 1996 elections, held under the 1960 electoral law in an environment of postwar Syrian occupation.47 That occupation eroded the already weak representative features of the 1960 law, seeing the blatant gerrymandering of districts alongside voter intimidation, block-vote buying, and the exclusion of opposition candidates during elections in 1992, 1996, 2000 and 2005.48
The 2005 elections came in the wake of the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri that February, an event which led to mass protests, in both support of and opposition to Syrian occupation. These protests also led to the formation of firmer political coalitions, with the March 8 Alliance, led by the pro-Syrian Shia party/militia Hezbollah, and the March 14 Alliance led by Hariri's son Saad under the banner (from 2007) of the Future Movement (tayyar al-mustaqbal).49 These two political groupings have dominated Lebanese politics since 2005. However, this was a step away from the shifting coalition-formation dynamic associated with consociational governance, a partial exception being the Druze Progressive Socialist Party (PSP) of Walid Jumblatt. The case of the PSP is important, as it has oscillated between support for and opposition to both Syria and Hezbollah, operating as effective "king makers" within the Lebanese system.50
Where reform efforts were stifled by Syria in the lead-up to the 2000 elections, Lebanese elites and the international community — notable participants in public debates prior to the 2005 poll — were unable to come to agreement over key changes to the law. As a result, a mixed-district-size approach was implemented in both 2000 and 2005, and the majoritarian voting system remained, with both polls coming in for sharp criticism in terms of their genuine representativeness. The 2005 election, in particular, was criticized for the discrepancy of seats won and votes gained. The victorious March 14 Alliance gained 72 of the 128 seats open for contest, with March 8 gaining the remaining 56. This is despite March 8's receiving roughly 815,000 votes in contrast to March 14's 680,000.51
Despite the emergence of a more integral party structure and the removal of foreign occupation, inertia remained the key feature of Lebanese electoral-law debates through the 2000s. Indeed, the parties and coalition blocs served to "obscure" the maintenance of confessional-elite control and the disparity between the size of support for parties and their representation in parliament. Perhaps more critically, both coalitions worked to ensure that no alternative political groupings were able to emerge.52 Thus, the parties presented the guise of institutional reform but worked to further the interests of community elites and perpetuate their control over the system. Here, the electoral regulations themselves, the key mechanisms in implementing and governing a consociational model, have been "simply disregarded" when they conflict with elite preferences, leaving the system with only "relative value."53
This dysfunction became visceral from 2005 and into 2008, with a series of assassinations of March 14 members.54 The strain on the system was increased with the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah, as well as the ongoing investigations into Hezbollah's involvement in the assassination of Rafiq Hariri. By late 2006, March 8 had boycotted parliament, calling for the resignation of the government and the formation of a national-unity arrangement in which it would retain veto power prior to early elections.55 Tension between the March 8 opposition and the March 14 government spilled over by 2007 and 2008, when the government sought to close Hezbollah's telecommunications network and remove a party member who was head of security at the Beirut airport. In response, violent clashes among Hezbollah, the state security services and other groups spread throughout Lebanon and into West Beirut in early May 2008.56
In response, the Arab League, with the backing of the United States and the United Nations, convened a summit in Doha on May 21 that led to the drafting of an interim agreement, largely acquiescing to the demands of March 8: the appointment of a new president (Michael Sleiman), formation of a national-unity cabinet with March 8 holding veto power, and the planning for elections in 2009. Again, despite efforts to use this opportunity to reform the electoral system, the 2009 elections were implemented according to the 1960 electoral law, reverting to the smaller constituencies and continuing with the majoritarian voting system. This was despite the production of a comprehensive, albeit moderate, reform proposal from the Boutros Commission in May 2006.57 The commission's recommendations focused on partial proportional representation, official pre-printed ballots, the creation of an independent electoral commission, wide-ranging campaign-financing regulations, a lowering of the voting age to 18, a 30 percent quota for female candidates and holding the election on a single day.58
However, when brought before the new national-unity government, the only reforms to be enshrined in the 2008 electoral law related to campaign financing and single-day elections. Alongside the re-introduction of the smaller qadaa districts, this new law in effect allowed for greater Christian over-representation in parliament, backed by both March 8 and March 14. This also saw the creation of constituencies with significantly different numbers of voters per representative. For instance, the qadaa of Hermel/Baalbek includes roughly 250,000 voters, while only 45,000 voters live in Bcharreh.59 Therefore, while Hezbollah was widely seen as a winner of the 2008 Doha Agreement, because it did not specifically address the issue of the use of arms and granted Hezbollah effective veto power over government decision making, the arrangement perpetuated the political status quo in favour of all elites, to the detriment of more genuine political representation. As stated by the International Crisis Group,
The Doha agreement paves the way for a more Christian-friendly electoral law. Up until now, the electoral map was such that the vast majority of Christian candidates had to enter into alliances with the main Muslim parties. Most Christian politicians, it follows, were elected thanks to Muslim votes. Not any more. Post-Doha, Christian parliamentarians for the most part will be elected in predominantly Christian districts. That means they will have real leverage and be able to adjudicate between the two principal Muslim poles, the one dominated by the Sunni Future Movement, the other by the Shiite Hizbollah.60
In other words, the 2008 electoral law reinforced the principles of the 1960 law and was driven by an effort to create as many mono-confessional or minimally diverse qadaa per confessional group as possible. This exacerbated inequalities in the value of votes; most of the larger qadaa in terms of population are predominantly Muslim (particularly Shia) while the smaller qadaa are predominantly Christian. In other words, the 2008 Doha Agreement installed reforms that required fewer Christian votes to elect Christian representatives than Muslim votes to elect Muslim representatives.61 On the surface, the devaluing of Shia votes appears counterintuitive, as the 2008 law was passed in the wake of Hezbollah's seemingly successful campaign to ensure political control — or at least a substantive political voice, even in opposition. However, when starting from the viewpoint of Lebanon as a hybrid autocratic, rather than consociational, state, this makes far more sense. The political elites in Lebanon acted in concert to ensure the continuation of a system that guaranteed their own political dominance.
Lijphart emphasizes the importance of avoiding the exclusion of groups from political decision making within this system.62 Certainly, political elites as self-appointed representatives of community interests in Lebanon have a shared stake in decision making. This has been reaffirmed several times since 1943, particularly through the Taif Agreement in 1989 and even with the 2008 Doha Accords. However, three outcomes have worked toward broader patterns of exclusion and highly constrained political activity. First, there is little to no chance that popular opinion can shape leadership positions within confessional political groupings. As focus is on the maintenance of the confessional structure underpinning their power, elites can effectively resist popular pressure that may affect policy decisions, leadership candidacy or other areas. This leads to the exclusion of non-elites from the political process. Second, discussions on reform are monopolized by political elites and effectively moderated so that reformist voices are either co-opted and bound up with the reform inertia characteristic of Lebanese politics, or they are excluded from the discussion. Third, and perhaps only marginal in terms of Lijphart's view of elite political management, the current confessional system actively excludes those who either actively identify as non-confessional or do not have a strong confessional or sectarian affiliation. As such, the situation in Lebanon is not one where decisions are made through consociational structures; decisions are made through informal direct negotiations. These decisions serve to ensure the survival of the confessional, power-sharing structure. Therefore, this structure affects the agency of Lebanese political actors: decisions made by elites to ensure the survival of the system can be in direct conflict with the interests of their constituencies.
The 1943 National Pact, the 1960 electoral law, the 1989 Taif Agreement, and the 2008 Doha Agreement are not notable examples of reform-enabling cross-confessional cooperation along the lines of a consociational model. Instead, they work to perpetuate a system whereby confessional elites are able to operate to ensure their dominance, and to actively exclude alternative voices. As a result, it is this elite bargaining that is the key feature of Lebanese politics: self-interest, unaffected by ideological concerns or anything else, directs decision making and prevents the enactment of much-needed reforms.
1 John McGarry and Brendan O'Leary, "Introduction: The Macro-Political Regulation of Ethnic Conflict," in The Politics of Ethnic Regulation: Case Studies of Protracted Ethnic Conflicts, eds. John McGarry and Brendan O'Leary (Routledge, 1993), 4; Venkat Iyer, "Enforced Consociationalism and Deeply Divided Societies: Some Reflections on Recent Developments in Fiji," International Journal of Law in Context 3, no. 2 (2007): 127-153. doi: 10.1017/S1744552307002042, 129; and Pippa Norris, Driving Democracy: Do Power-Sharing Institutions Work? (Cambridge University Press, 2008), 3-4.
2 Arend Lijphart, Democracy in Plural Societies: A Comparative Exploration (Yale University Press, 1977), 25.
3 Ibid., 11.
4 Robert A. Dahl, Dilemmas of Pluralist Democracy: Autonomy vs. Control (Yale University Press, 1982), 74; and Arend Lijphart, "Consociational Democracy," World Politics 21, no. 2 (1969): 207-225, https://is.muni.cz/el/1423/jaro2005/EUP405/lijphart69.pdf.
5 Lijphart, "Consociational Democracy," 22-3.
6 Eric A. Nordlinger, Conflict Regulation in Divided Societies (Harvard University Center for International Affairs, 1972).
7 Tamrice Fakhoury Mühlbacher, Democratisation and Power-Sharing in Stormy Weather: The Case of Lebanon (VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, 2009), 35; and Lijphart, "Consociational Democracy," 212.
8 See the "housing metaphor" in McGarry and O'Leary, "Power Shared," 16-17.
9 Simon Haddad, "Lebanon: From Consociationalism to Conciliation," Nationalism and Ethnic Politics 15, no. 3-4 (2009): 398-416, doi: 10.1080/13537110903346684, 399.
10 Timothy D. Sisk, Democratization in South Africa: The Elusive Social Contract (Princeton University Press, 1995), 19.
11 Benjamin Reilly, "Centripetalism: Cooperation, Accommodation and Integration," in Conflict Management in Divided Societies: Theories and Practice, eds. Stefan Wolff and Christalla Yakinthou (Routledge, 2011), 4.
12 David L. Horowitz, Ethnic Groups in Conflict (University of California Press, 2002), 23.
13 Haddad, "Consociationalism to Conciliation," 399.
14 Timothy D. Sisk, "Pathways of the Political: Electoral Processes after Civil War," in The Dilemmas of Statebuilding: Confronting the Contradictions of Postwar Peace Operations, eds. Roland Paris and Timothy D. Sisk, 196-223 (Routledge, 2009), 220.
15 Kristine Höglund, "Electoral Violence: Causes, Concepts and Consequences," Terrorism and Political Violence 21, no. 3 (2009): 412-427, doi: 10.1080/09546550902950290.
16 Pauline Baker, "Conflict Resolution versus Democratic Governance: Divergent Paths to Peace?" in Turbulent Peace: The Challenges of Managing International Conflict, eds. Chester A. Crocker, Fen Olser Hampson and Pamela Aall (United States Institute of Peace, 2001), 760.
17 Donald L. Horowitz, "Conciliatory Institutions and Constitutional Processes in Post-Conflict States," William and Mary Law Review 49, no. 4 (2008): 1213-1249. http://wmlawreview.org/sites/default/files/HOROWITZ.pdf, 1216; and Haddad, "Consociationalism to Conciliation," 400-401.
18 Imad Salamey, "Failing Consociationalism in Lebanon and Integrative Options," International Journal of Peace Studies 14, no. 2 (2009): 83-105, doi: 10.1111/1477955212095, 83.
19 Michael C. Hudson, The Precarious Republic: Political Modernization in Lebanon (Westview Press, 1985), 45; Benjamin MacQueen, Political Culture and Conflict Resolution in the Arab World: Lebanon and Algeria (Melbourne University Press, 2009), 39.
20 A permanent Maronite presidency, Sunni prime ministership, and Shia speakership of the Assembly of Representatives (majlis al-nuwab), Greek Orthodox deputy prime minister, and Druze chief of general staff.
21 Farid el-Khazen, The Communal Pact of National Identities: The Making and Politics of the 1943 National Pact (Centre for Lebanese Studies, 1991), 5.
22 Ibid., 39.
23 Decree No. 2 of January 1934 and Decree No. 312 of July 31, 1943.
24 Ralph E. Crow, "Lebanon," in Electoral Politics in the Middle East: Issues, Voters and Elites, eds. Jacob M. Landau, Ergun Özbudun and Frank Tachau (Routledge, 1980), 39-68.
25 David C. Gordon, Lebanon: The Fragmented Nation (Croom Helm, 1980), 41; Kamel S. Abu Jaber, "The Democratic Process in Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan," in Democratization in the Middle East: Experiences, Struggles, Challenges, eds. Amin Saikal and Albrecht Schnabel (United Nations University Press, 2003), 135.
26 According to the electoral law of September 2008, the 11 officially recognized confessions are allocated the following proportion of seats: Christian (64 total) — Maronite Catholic (34), Greek Orthodox (14), Greek Catholic (8), Armenian Orthodox (5), Armenian Catholic (1), Evangelical (1), Christian Minorities (1); Muslim (64 total) — Sunni (27), Shi'a (27), Druze (8), Alawite (2).
27 International Foundation for Electoral Systems, "Lebanon's 2009 Parliamentary Elections," March 2009, https://www.ifes.org/sites/default/files/ifes_lebanon_esb_paper030209_0…, 3.
28 Democracy Reporting International, "Assessment of the Electoral Framework: The Election Law of 2000 and the Draft Law by the Boutros Commission," December 2008, www.democracy-reporting.org/files/report_lebanon_0902.pdf, 17.
29 Bassel F. Salloukh, "Limits of Electoral Engineering in Divided Societies: Elections in Lebanon," Canadian Journal of Political Science 39, no. 3 (2006): 635-55. doi: 10.1017/S0008423906060185, 639; and Salamey, "Failing Consociationalism," 98.
30 Nawaf A. Salam, Options for Lebanon (I.B.Tauris, 2004), 2.
31 Michael C. Hudson, "The Electoral Process and Political Development in Lebanon," Middle East Journal 20, no. 2 (1966): 173-86, http://search.proquest.com/docview/1290745571?accountid=12528; and Salam, Options for Lebanon, 3.
32 Salam, Options for Lebanon, 2.
33 Ibid., 3.
34 Salloukh, "Limits of Electoral Engineering," 641.
35 Kamal Salibi, A House of Many Mansions: The History of Lebanon Reconsidered (University of California Press, 1990), 189.
36 Hudson, The Precarious Republic, 214.
37 David M. Farrell, Electoral Systems: A Comparative Introduction, 2nd ed. (Palgrave, 2011), 4.
38 Sisk, "Pathways of the Political," 220-221.
39 See Section II, A, 5, B and C and Article 24 of the Lebanese Constitution.
40 Democracy Reporting International, "Election Law of 2000," 19.
42 Ibid., 2.
43 Ibid., 22.
44 Salloukh, "Limits of Electoral Engineering," 639-41 (parenthesis added).
45 European Union, "European Union Election Observation Mission: Lebanon Final Report, Parliamentary Elections 7 June 2009," October 7, 2009, http://eeas.europa.eu/internet/eeas.europa.eu/human_rights/election_obs…, 9.
46 el-Khazen, The Communal Pact, 15.
47 Exceptions to this include parties that formed in the pre-independence period such as the secular-leftist Syrian Social Nationalist Party, the Maronite Kataeb Party (the Lebanese Phalanges Party) and the Armenian Social Democrat Hunchakian Party, organizations that have held a minimal number of seats in most recent parliaments.
48 Salamey, "Failing Consociationalism," 90.
49 Each coalition was multi-confessional, with March 8 including the Shi`a Hezbollah and Amal as well as the Maronite Free Patriotic Movement headed by former Prime Minister Michel Aoun and El Marada Movemement, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, and the secular Syrian Social Nationalist Party. March 14 included the Maronite Lebanese Forces and Kataeb Party, and the Armenian Social Democrat Hunchakian Party alongside the Future Movement.
50 The stance of the PSP in relation to Hezbollah has shifted around the maintenance of Hezbollah's armed wing, particularly in the wake of the 2005 Hariri assassination in which they are implicated.
51 Fouad Makhzoumi, "Lebanon's Crisis of Sovereignty," Survival 52, no. 2 (2010): 5-12, doi: 10.1080/00396331003764298, 6.
52 Democracy Reporting International, "Election Law of 2000," 14.
53 Ibid., 18.
54 Eight people, including four sitting March 14 MPs, were assassinated between 2005 and 2008.
55 National Democratic Institute, "Final Report on the Lebanese Parliamentary Election," June 7, 2009, www.ndi.org/node/16115, 12.
56 European Union, "Lebanon Final Report," 7.
57 This was formally known as the National Commission on Electoral Law and was headed by former Foreign Minister Fouad Boutros.
58 Democracy Reporting International, "Election Law of 2000," 5-6; NDI, 2009: 15.
59 International Federation for Electoral Systems, "Lebanon's 2009 Parliamentary Elections."
60 International Crisis Group. "The New Lebanese Equation: The Christians' Central Role," July 15, 2008, http://www.crisisgroup.org/en/regions/middle-east-north-africa/syria-le…, i.
61 European Union, "Lebanon Final Report," 8.
62 Arend Lijphart, Thinking about Democracy: Power Sharing and Majority Rule in Theory and Practice, Routledge, 2007.
Middle East Policy is fully accessible through the Wiley Online Library
Click below to subscribe to the online or print edition of Middle East Policy and gain access to all journal content.