Francisco Salvador Barroso Cortés and Joseph A. Kéchichian
Dr. Barroso Cortés is an associate professor and head of the Department of Political and Administrative Sciences of the School of Law and Political Sciences at the Université du Saint-Esprit Kaslik (USEK) in Lebanon; and Dr. Kéchichian is a senior fellow at the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
For nearly a century, the absence of ethical norms within Lebanese political circles encouraged the practice of corruption that transformed the praxis into an unparalleled art form, one that generated clout-yielding elites. Sophisticated public-power mechanisms created for the benefit of the country’s 18 religious denominations, transformed them into partners in corruption, and secured greater quotas of power, and an exclusive hold on all public resources. What this translated into was a “neo-patrimonial” dynamic, which the October 2019 revolutionaries challenged, with calls to reconsider the political management of the country as well as the existing system of government. The 2020 impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) aggravated conditions, as Beirut displayed amateurish attention to serious health challenges, which added insults to ongoing economic injuries. This paper evaluates what political elites actually did, even at the height of enduring crises, focusing on the banking sector to highlight the rise of a new mafiocracy. It closes with an assessment of future challenges that Beirut will confront.
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