Elections will change nothing in Lebanon
The deadline to publish electoral lists for the May 6 parliamentary elections in Lebanon has passed. With the introduction of the new electoral law requiring voting for lists and not independent members, many candidates withdrew from the parliamentary race after they failed to form a list or join bigger lists.
The electoral law and the alliances it imposed have erased a lot of political figures, destroying principles and making the calculations all about alliances. The Lebanese people discovered that the political sides that were rivals for years, almost leading the country to wars, have found common ground, allowing them to succeed in the elections even if they were not consistent with their principles and history. The elections in Lebanon are suitable to awaken people’s ugliest instincts, as voting does not imply calculating the interests of these groups as much as it represents a sectarian race toward promoting power and influence.
In this context, we can invoke the statements of Lebanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Gebran Bassil regarding the draft law he proposed allowing Lebanese women married to non-Lebanese nationals to pass their citizenship to their children, with the exception of those from “neighboring countries,” specifically Syria and Palestine. The discrimination in the draft law is clear in addressing the concerns of the Lebanese Christian community, which in fact was highly responsive to it. This was a discriminatory draft law proposed in an electoral moment. The Lebanese groups are contesting the elections along these lines. For instance, Hezbollah told Shiite voters that people who vote for another party would be electing Daesh or Al-Nusra Front.
The vote on May 6 will result in the same political class being in power, an inevitable consequence of campaigning along racist and sectarian lines.Diana Moukalled
As for Michel Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement, the party of the President of the Lebanese Republic, which is calling for the restoration of “Christians’ rights,” is waging a battle with the Muslim Brotherhood in some parts, dropping a lot of slogans it had adopted earlier. FPM used to claim it was fighting political Islam to preserve the place of Christians and their pioneering role, but is now resorting to forming an alliance with the Islamic group, thus dragging itself and its entourage into a great paradox.
The tragic thing in these Lebanese elections is that each group is allowing its opponent the right to use its ugliest tools. For instance, when Bassil proposed his racist draft law, none of his electoral opponents, whether from his sect or any other, condemned it, and no one from the Lebanese political class took the initiative to debate the proposal. Similarly, when Hezbollah said people voting for another party would be electing Daesh, no one responded, although the elections require a response.
The elections will not renew Lebanese life, and will not represent an opportunity to make a significant change. They will not limit the role of Hezbollah in the regional civil wars it has dragged Lebanon into. The elections will not offer adequate laws providing equality for women as long as Bassil prioritizes sectarian concerns over humanitarian and civil issues.
The forthcoming elections will once again result in the same political class being in power, with some insignificant minor changes, meaning that we will remain prisoners of the big equations keeping the political situation in Lebanon pending.
• 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