Election fever

As the June legislative elections draw nearer, the Lebanese parties-cum-militias (and they all are that, not just the ubiquitous Hizbullah) start their campaigns which, apart from an increase in petty violent confrontations, often involve financial donations to undecided voters and serious haggling and dealmaking among even the most bitterly opposed parties in their attempt to deal with the hopelessly complex and decidedly undemocratic Lebanese election system. As there are no credible surveys being held and figures about just about anything and anybody are notoriously hard to come by in this country, it is anybody’s guess which of the two main blocs will come out the winner, but rest assured any victory will be by a small margin. This margin consists mostly of the Metn, a district in the christian mountain heartland where M14’s Lebanese Forces and (less importantly) Phalanges and M8’s Aoun will battle it out, both greatly hindered by the sitting-on-the-fence position of Michel Murr, formerly with M8 recently gone ‘independent’, having candidates connected with both blocs on his list. The decisive votes may well lie with the country’s Armenian population, whose two parties are each allied with one the two blocs (or what did you expect?), although the M8-allied Tashnag now appears to have candidates on Murr’s list… As if all that is not complicated enough, Nasrallah has recently announced that if M8 wins the elections, they would preferably form a government of national unity, even offering M14 veto power (like M8 in the current national unity government) and Saad Hariri the prime ministership – the PM has to be a sunni anyway under the Taif accords. Nasrallah’s proposal makes political sense in a country as divided and ungovernable as Lebanon, but pisses a lot of M8 supporters off, seeing as they are still going to be governed by the same punks no matter who or what they vote for. A non=sectarian partu meanwhile remains as unlikely a proposition in this country as ever.  For all this and more information, there is now a good new source, a blog called Lebanese Elections 2009, regularly updated by Deen Sharp, a freelance journo in Beirut. Also interesting is a new article by Franklin Lamb, full of original facts and ideas from the perspective of Dahiyyeh – if you can wade through his chaotic writing style and shoddy editing…

PS – I just noticed I have written 385 words on Lebanese elections without even one mention of a foreign country meddling – that simply must be a first!

PS2 – a thank you to some of my readers for rallying to my defense against some guy calling himself after a pistol who seemed to insist that my writing style was ‘effeminate, passive’ whereas the Middle East, in his opinion, needs to be written about in ‘shorter sentences in a bolder, more assertive manner’ – yes, very weird, I know, and I was just letting it pass unanswered myself, although I found it laughable enough to publish, but some of my readers clearly thought otherwise…

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