Hezbollah’s weapons loom large over Lebanese elections

Hezbollah’s weapons loom large over Lebanese elections

As Lebanon’s parliamentary elections — the first in nine years — approach, sources close to Prime Minister Saad Hariri have been quoted as saying that winning the biggest bloc in the next parliament is no guarantee of success.
Hariri achieved this in 2009, defeating Hezbollah in the election, but this result was not imposed. When Hezbollah felt that Hariri could be a challenge, they turned against the election result, overthrew Hariri’s government less than two years after its formation and helped Najib Mikati take his place. Mikati headed the Cabinet’s smallest parliamentary bloc, which included only him and one other member of parliament, yet he was appointed by Hezbollah as prime minister at the time. 
In the 2018 elections on May 6, there won’t be much competition. We are facing a political scene in which there is no noticeable ambition to compete with Hezbollah or oppose its weapons, as in 2009. Political facts, local and regional security and military information, and the election law would not make that possible.
The elections have become a competition under the guise of politics, which means the first condition for forming a government is that it legislates Hezbollah’s weapons — something the current parties don’t seem capable of opposing.
Hezbollah has never been as comfortable with the elections as it is today. Not even one vote in the electoral noise suggests to the people of Lebanon that these elections should attempt to have the state oust Hezbollah from decisions concerning war and weapons. 

We are heading toward elections of a great deal of heredity and little politics. Everyone declares that they want to fight corruption, which is required for sure, but it still prevails in Lebanon and the No. 1 form of corruption, under which other forms cultivate, relates to weapons.

Diana Moukalled 

All of the current divisions lead to accepting the fact that Hezbollah is a power with which no one dares to compete. We must go to the ballot boxes on May 6 to participate in elections that declare we have accepted we cannot have political ambitions in a state that monopolizes power and weapons, but not politics. 
The second phenomenon that makes the coming elections special is heirs. True, this isn’t a new phenomenon, but there are many new heirs. Lebanese social media activists have made fun of this phenomenon by sharing lists of 32 political figures trying to pass their parliamentary seats down to their sons. 
Politicians’ enthusiasm for heredity suggests that Lebanon, which follows a different system compared to neighboring countries, has broadly allowed parliamentary seats to be inherited. This contradicts the idea on which authority in Lebanon is based — that authority changes. The persistence of an authority is the idea on which military governments are based above all else.
We are heading toward elections of a great deal of heredity and little politics. Everyone declares that they want to fight corruption, which is required for sure, but it still prevails in Lebanon and the No. 1 form of corruption, under which other forms cultivate, relates to weapons.
Ahead of May’s elections, there will be those who announce plans to fight minor forms of corruption due to their inability to put an end to greater forms of it. This means we are heading toward elections that marginally improve the overall appearance, if at all, but remain helpless in the face of the bigger issue: Weapons.
 
  • Diana Moukalled is a veteran journalist with extensive experience in both traditional and new media. She is also a columnist and freelance documentary producer.
    Twitter: @dianamoukalled

 
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