Thursday, April 30, 2009

Lebanon's Electoral System

A briefing paper by IFES on the Lebanese Electoral System. Further information can be found at
Lebanese Electoral System Lebanese Electoral System Deen Sharp A breakdown of Lebanon's electoral system.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Women and the elections


Aoun's FPM have caused quite a stir with this poster calling you to, "be beautiful and vote". So much so that they felt the need to write an article defending the campaign (in Arabic). The Feminist Collective stated 12 reasons as to why they found this billboard offensive, while Menassat wrote a story with the title "Be Beautiful and Vote" or "Be Intelligent and Vote Blank?" And +961 posted a great blog on the billboard war that this poster has sparked and the general contest that billboards have sparked.

This debate must lead to an actual discussion of women and the elections.

Of the 12 female candidates for this election only three are likely to be elected and all are attached to powerful families and/or male figures: Nayla Tunei, Bahia Hariri and Stridea Geagea. This will mean that the number of women in the Lebanese Parliament is likely to stay the same at three. IRIN articulated how bad this situation is by stating that this number was, " far fewer than politically restricted neighbors such as Syria, which had 30 women MPs out of 250; Jordan which had 13 out of 165; and Egypt which had 31 out of 718."

A quota for women?

Aoun has been criticized by the fact that the FPM are not fielding any female candidates. Aoun responded by stating that he had asked three women to run "but they apologized saying they were not ready.” Aoun went on to defend his record with regard to women's rights stating that he supported the draft law wanting to establish a quota for women in Parliament and that “women should have 50% of the parliamentary seats, not 10 or 20%.”

In an interview with Now Lebanon Nayla Tueni stated she was against a quota. "I’m not with the quota for women because it’s like you’re putting limits for women. It’s not ideal to say, for example, “You only have 15 seats for women.” I’d like to see a much bigger number of women in parliament, and there should be.

The debate as to whether a quota should be established or not for women certainly needs a to be continued and focused on a lot more. While, Lebanon may have a better situation for women in the job market the parliamentary representation of the expected 3 out of 128 is abysmal; women do after all make up 52% of the population.

The 12 female candidates for this elections are:

Ghada al-Dandashi Sunni, Tripoli
Hoda Sankari Sunni, Tripoli
Regine Kantara Maronite, Tripoli

Sethrida Geagea Maronite, March 14, Bcharre

Ibtisam Saadi Sunni, Baalbek-Hermel

Magda Bridi Catholic, Zahli

Norma Ferzli, Greek Orthodox, West Bekka-Rashaya

Therese Rizk Allah Maronite, Baabda

Gilberte Zouwien Maronite, FPM, Kesrwan

Nayla Tueni, Greek Orthodox, March 14 affiliated, Beriut 1

Ghenwa Jalloul, Sunni, Beirut 3

Bahia Hariri, Sunni, March 14, Saida

UPDATE: This billboard appears to be getting more and more popular as the English paper The Times included the billboard in its picture of the day.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Corruption yes but the focus should be the increased sectarianism!

The New York Times correspondent Robert Worth has given the Lebanese elections their first intentional exposure in the English language press. Worth makes some pretty big claims stating that, "The parliamentary elections here in June are shaping up to be among the most expensive ever held anywhere, with hundreds of millions of dollars streaming into this small country from around the globe."

There is no doubt hundreds of millions of dollars will stream into Lebanon and I have already had people email me asking which parties are offering free flights; by the way I don't know! I am at a loss at how the editors of the NYT let such hyperbole slip through "the most expensive ever held anywhere". Somehow I think the US elections may beat Lebanon.... But don't worry he has covered himself with wonderful words such as "shaping up" and "among". No doubt these will 'probably be the best elections in the world!'

Worth is however, correct in highlighting the wide scale corruption and vote buying that will go on in this election. The article articulates how systemic corruption in the Lebanese electoral system has become. "Lebanon has campaign spending limits this year for the first time, and the Arab world’s first system to monitor that spending, by the Lebanese chapter of Transparency International. But the limits — which are very loose to begin with — apply only in the last two months of the campaign. And they are laughably easy to circumvent, according to election monitors and Lebanese officials."

When I talked to
Gaƫlle Kibranian, the Project Director for Lebanese Transparency International (LTA), she denied that candidates are ignoring this issue completely. "The main political parties/blocs in Lebanon are using the promotion of transparency as part of their electoral program especially when it comes to campaign finance. They are all taking the question very seriously, trying to abide by the law, in order to avoid future challenges." Kibranian did not deny however, the serious shortcomings in the law and not to mention the fact that the Constituinal Council (CC) is still yet to be established. This means that any corruption that the LTA uncover cannot be prosecuted or even looked at officially. There will be more on the issue of the CC in the future.

I can not come to terms with the fact Worth does not mention sectarianism once in the article!! The most serious implication of the 2008 election law is the fact that it has increased sectarian nature of Lebanese politics. Not once! As Kibranian told me, "the main problem in Lebanon remains confessionalism, which shapes the relationship between citizens and state, as well as the lack of separation of powers.These lead to nepotism, clientalism, and patronage." As the Democracy Reporting International report stated on the electoral law the new law accentuates confessional differences and is "increasing the long-term potential for conflict in the country."

It was also interesting the candidates that he picked out. Only
Walid Maalouf and Ahmed al-Asaad two very marginal but very pro-US politicians. I actually am a fan of Robert Worth but I think he needed a bit less hyperbole and more thought on this one.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Jumblatt out of March 14? part II

At the beginning of the month I stated that it was likely that Walid Junblatt would drop out of the March 14 coalition after the elections.

Now a video taken on an iphone at a private meeting of Druze hierarchy and released to New TV. Friday Lunch Club has provided a full translation of what he said. What is really causing consternation, apart from Junblatt appearing to have trouble remembering Geagea's (the leader of the Lebanese Forces) name, is his statement that the Sunni and March 14 Christians wanted to sit back while the Druze and Shia fought (in the events of the 7th May) and that he called the Maronite's a "bad breed".

With regard to the elections the pro March 14 commentator Michael Young articulates the consequences succinctly: "The political consequences of his statements will be grave, particularly in Baabda. In Zahleh, too, observers expect Elie Skaff to gain from Maronite retaliation against March 14. In the West Bekaa, the Sunnis have been angry with Jumblatt for some weeks now due to his alliance with Nabih Berri, and his latest comments may have repercussions on how they vote for Wael Abou Faour, even if he probably will be elected. In the Metn, the Kisirwan, and Jbeil, March 14 has just been made weaker, as Michel Aoun will be able to argue that those Maronites who allied with Jumblatt were all along despised by him." Young also believes that the video was released deliberatley by Jumblatt.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The June Elections - Who will win? Part 1

The known knowns and the known unknowns

The embedded document gives a conservative prediction as to what is known as to who will win in what districts and what is unknown as of the end of April.

The Known knowns

March 8 have 46 seats that are safely theirs and 9 that are probable = 55 seats

March 14 have 44 seats that are safely theirs and 11 that are probable = 55 seats

The known unknowns

There are going to be 38 seats in all that are going to be competitive and 18 that are really completely unknown as to who will win.

Predictions for the Elections 2009

Monday, April 20, 2009

Beirut 1 - Keeping it in the family

Lebanon will see many candidates that come from traditional political families. All of the female MPs running for parliament of which there are 8 come from prominent Lebanese families.

The district of Beirut 1 is seeing a particular case of 'carrying on tradition' with Nayla Tueni and Nadim Gemayel both fighting for a seat in the district:

Nayla Tueni the daughter of assassinated journalist, editor and MP Gibran Tueni. Tueni will be running for the Greek Orthodox seat in Beirut 1. Tueni does not belong to a political party or the March 14 coalition but is running as an ally of the coalition. Her main opponent in the Beirut 1 district is current Minister Issam Abu Jamra. Prominet posters such as this one have began to appear in the Beirut 1 district. An interview with Nayla Tueni in Now Lebanon.

Nadim Gemayel is the son of the assassinated former president Bashir Gemayel. In this poster he is positioned in exactly the same way of a famous picture that his father poses in posted all over Beirut. Nadim Gemayel is running in Beirut's 1st district for the Maronite seat.

Friday, April 17, 2009


Not that I want to sh
oot myself in the foot by telling you to go elsewhere for information on the elections. But the Ministry of Interior, in association with IFES, has launched a website dedicated to the elections. The Elections 2009 website is a trilingual website to address the specific stakeholders in the elections: the candidates, voters, polling officials, observers and the media. The website provides legal information such as the electoral law and decree related to the election. In addition to this, all the electoral districts are listed with the number of seats for each district and the candidates.

The website also provides information on the electoral system, legal information such as the electoral law and decrees related to the election.

The election website provides information on the SCEC (The Supervisory Commission for Electoral Campaigns). Information includes the mandate of SCEC, by laws, members, regulations and will include reports published by the SCEC.

The website has interactive features such as a list of polling stations that will then allow the voter to type in his/her name and locate where he/she should vote. The website will have a map locating the polling station and a picture of the polling station. Further to this, it will detail the accessibility of the polling station for those voters that need disabled access.

Post elections the full results will be posted on the website. After the 2009 elections have been finalized the website will then be used for the 2010 municipality elections.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A Senate for Lebanon?

A new civil society initiative has been launched promoting the idea of creating a Senate for Lebanon. The Lebanese Campaign for a Senate, "seeks to raise awareness about the ways in which the creation of a senate would work to dismantle political sectarianism in Lebanon".

Party Slogans - Green Party

The Green Party slogans

The poster says, "Because the earth is not confessional".

Party Slogans - Hezbollah

This is the party slogan for Hassan Nasrallah's Hezbollah

The poster has Lebanon in big green letters with the Hezbollah logo faded to the left. On the right with a red strike through reads, "Your Lebanon, Our Lebanon, Their Lebanon ".

For an excellent article on Hezbollah's election campaign see Qifa Nabki.

Party Slogans - Lebanese Forces

The party slogan for Samir Geagea's Lebanese Forces

The poster says, "With your vote the picture changes". The picture in the corner is from the opposition demonstration of last year.

Party Slogans - FPM

The election slogans from General Michel Aoun's Free Patriotic Movement:

This poster says, "No future without change". The poster that is ripped is imitating the Future Movements campaign poster.

Translation "So all of your votes can either be right right or wrong wrong". This is playing on the fact that the FPM slogan is a tick.

Party Slogans - Future

Party slogan for Saad Hariri's Future Movement:

Pictures are courtesy of Qifa Nabki

The posters read, from left to right: (1) The future is where you will spend the rest of your life; (2) In order to know the future, you have to build it; (3) The future is promising, without a doubt. The third poster is the only one which permits a full analogical reading, producing “The Future [Movement] has promised, without a doubt,” alongside the literal “future is promising” message. (Translations also courtesy of Qifa Nabki)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Party Slogans - Amal

Election campaign poster for Nahbi Berri's Amal party:

Translates as "perseverance". This campaign has similar posters with the main word being "Development", "Democracy", "Hope" with different pictures with each slogan.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The June 2009 Elections: Issues and Challenges

The April 8th deadline for the registration of candidates has been reached for the June 7th general elections and there are now exactly 60 days in until elections. To coincide with this important event The International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), The Carnegie Middle East Center (CMEC), The Lebanese Center for Policy Studies (LCPS) and the International Crisis Group (ICC) organized a workshop entitled “The June 2009 Elections: Issues and Challenges”.

Attending the workshop and giving the keynote address was H.E. Minister of Interior Ziyad Baroud. Minister Baroud noted that for the upcoming election, “simple [election] issues that are standard in other countries are being applied for the first time in Lebanon,” Baroud stated. Achievements such as the holding of the elections on one day, creation of the SCEC (Supervisory Commission on the Electoral Campaign) and the publication of the voter register are significant improvements, Baroud stated. The publication of the voter register for the first time resulted in 4.7 million visits to the Ministry of Interior website and 250,000 corrections to the register, according to Minister Baroud. Further to this, for the first time the list of candidates running in the elections will be made publically available. However, Baroud expressed disappointment at the overall electoral framework. “We wanted an ambitious democratic space but with the current electoral law this is not what we have and on the 8th of June our first mission will be [to create] a new electoral law…I am applying a [electoral] law I do not like,” Baroud stated. One aspect of the current law that Baroud expressed particular dislike to was the omission of an official universal ballot paper and the continued use of the pre-printed ballot. As for the electoral system as a whole Baroud stated that he wanted to see Lebanon use a proportional electoral system away from the current majoritarian system. Minister Baroud ended his speech on a high note stating that the registration of 702 candidates was a “great” and that the elections will “put the finger on the problems [of Lebanon]”.

Registration Complete - 702 candidates

The registration for the elections is complete with 702 candidates registered. IFES (The International Foundation of Electoral Systems) complied a list of all the registered candidates. The most important news: 1. there is only one uncontested seat, which is in the Metn Armenian Orthodox seat; the Beirut II district will be a competitive race despite an agreement at Doha; that there appear at the moment to be too many candidates for certain seats and that both the March 14 and March 8 coalition will have to negotiate internally as to the final list they propose.

The breakdown of the candidates in the districts:

Akkar (North Lebanon) - 7 seats 51 candidates
Sunni 3 seats 27 candidates
Greek Orthodox 2 seats 14 candidates
Alawite 1 seat 4 candidates
Maronite 1 seat 6 candidates

Minieh-Dinnieh (North Lebanon)
- 3 seats 40 candidates
Sunni 3 seats 40 candidates

Tripoli (North Lebanon) - 8 seats 50 candidates
Sunni 5 seats 27 candidates
Alawite 1 seat 10 candidates
Greek Orthodox 1 seat 5 candidates
Maronite 1 seat and 8 candidates

Zgharta (Mount Lebanon) - 3 seats 11 candidates
Maronite 3 seats 11 candidates

Koura (Mount Lebanon)
- 3 seats 14 candidates
Greek Orthodox 3 seats 14 candidates

Bcharre (Mount Lebanon)
- 2 seats 8 candidates
Maronite 2 seats 8 candidates

Batroun (Mount Lebanon) - 2 seats 12 candidates
Maronite 2 seats 12 candidates

Baalbeck-Hermel (Bekka)
- 10 seats 51 candidates
Shia 6 seats 33 candidates
Sunni 2 seats 8 candidates
Greek Catholic 1 seat 6 candidates
Maronite 1 seat 4 candidates

Zahle (Bekka)
7 seats 69 candidates
Greek Catholic 2 seats 10 candidates
Armenian Orthodox 1 seat 8 candidates
Greek Orthodox 1 seat 8 candidates
Maronite 1 seat 7 candidates
Shia 1 seat 13 candidates
Sunni 1 seat 23 candidates

West Bekka-Rashaya (Bekka) 6 seats 34 candidates
Sunni 2 seats 19 candidates
Druze 1 seat 2 candidates
Greek Orthodox 1 seat 4 candidates
Maronite 1 seat 2 candidates
Shia 1 seat 7 candidates

Jbeil (Mount Lebanon) 3 seats 27 candidates
Maronite 2 seats 14 candidates
Shia 1 seat 13 candidates

Kesrwan (Mount Lebanon) 5 seats 30 candidates
Maronite 5 seats 30 candidates

Metn (Mount Lebanon)
8 seats 33 candidates
Maronite 4 seats 17 candidates
Greek Orthodox 2 seats 6 candidates
Armenian Orthodox 1 seat 1 candidates
Greek Catholic 1 seat 8 candidates

Baabda (Mount Lebanon)
6 seats 45 candidates
Maronite 3 seats 20 candidates
Shia 2 seats 16 candidates
Druze 1 seats 9 candidates

Aley (Mount Lebanon)
5 seats 17 candidates
Druze 2 seats 3 candidates
Maronite 2 seats 7 candidates
Greek Orthodox 1 seat 7 candidates

Chouf (Mount Lebanon)
8 seats 23 candidates
Marontie 3 seats 8 candidates
Druze 2 seats 5 candidates
Sunni 2 seats 7 candidates
Greek Catholic 1 seat 3 candidates

Beirut 1 5 seats 23 candidates
Armenian Catholic 1 seat 5 candidates
Armenain Orthodox 1 seat 5 candidates
Greek Catholic 1 seat 2 candidates
Greek Orthodox 1 seat 6 candidates
Maronite 1 seat 5 candidates

Beirut 2 4 seats 19 candidates
Armenian Orthodox 2 seats 6 candidates
Shia 1 seat 8 candidates
Sunni 1 seat 5 candidates

Beirut 3
10 seats 48 candidates
Sunni 5 seats 28 candidates
Christian Minorities 1 seat 3 candidates
Druze 1 seat 3 candidates
Evangelical 1 seat 3 candidates
Greek Orthodox 1 seat 5 candidates
Shia 1 seat 6 candidates

Saida (South Lebanon) 2 seats 5 candidates
Sunni 2 seats 5 candidates

Jezzine (South Lebanon) 3 seats 25 candidates
Marontie 2 seats 14 candidates
Greek Catholic 1 seat 11 candidates

Zahrany (South Lebanon) 3 seats 11 candidates
Shia 2 seats 6 candidates
Greek Catholic 1 seat 5 candidates

Nabatieh (South Lebanon) 3 seats 15 candidates
Shia 3 seats 15 candidates

Hasbaya-Marjayoun (South Lebanon) 5 seats 20 candidates
Shia 2 seats 7 candidates
Druze 1 seat 2 candidates
Greek Orthodox 1 seat 2 candidates
Sunni 1 seat 9 candidates

Tyre (South Lebanon) 4 seats 8 candidates
Shia 4 seats 8 candidates

Bint Jbeil (South Lebanon) 3 seats 11 candidates
Shia 3 seats 11 candidates

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Jumblatt to drop out of March 14?

It is expected that Jumblatt will drop out of the March 14 coalition after the elections. This decision is expected as Jumblatt has increasingly distanced himself from the coalition after disputes on electoral candidates. Jumblatt has largely being balancing between all the political factions as to where candidates are allocated. Further to this, a member of Jumblatt's inner circle stated that he expects this move to occur but has not been told directly by Jumblatt. This senior Druze community member stated that this change of course by Jumblatt is due to the regional and international climate and the Obama administrations plans for the region.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

April 8th an important election date

Weds 8 April marks the point when it is exactly 60 days to the election. The election law states very important measure that come into affect from this point:

  • Deadline for registration of candidates. Art. 49(1)
  • If only one application has been received for a seat, that candidate is declared uncontested winner. Art. 50
  • Latest date for the start of campaign finance regulations. Art. 54 (compliance begins on date of application of candidacy)
  • Latest date for the start of media campaign regulations upon candidate. Art. 65 (compliance begins on date of application of candidacy)
  • Starting date for media outlets to comply with media campaign regulations. Assumed from Art. 65
  • Start date for all audio-visual media to provide voter education Art. 69
  • Start date for all local authorities to provide billposting locations Art. 70
  • Start date of regulatory provisions on opinion polling Art. 74(2)

The April 8th Candidate Deadline Nears

The date for the final registration of candidates for the election is approaching. A deluge of candidates names has been released by the various political parties in Lebanon bringing the total to 222, according Now Lebanon.

Hezbollah have released their full candidate list:
-Nabatiyeh: MP Mohammad Raad, head of Hizbullah's Loyalty to the Resistance Bloc
-Tyre district: MP Mohammad Fneish (Minister) and Nawwaf Mousawi (formerly chief of Hizbullah International Relations office)
-Bint Jbeil district: MP Hassan Fadlallah
-Marjayoun-Hasbaya: Ali Fayad
-Baalbek-Hermel: MP Hussein Hajj Hassan, Hussein Moussawi , MP Nawwar Sahili, MP Ali Moqdad
-Baabda: MP Ali Ammar
-Beirut 2nd district: MP Amin Cherri

While March 14 have said that they will have agreed on their full candidate list by Sunday. While the SSNP also stated that they will have a list of candidates finalized by Sunday.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Armenians and the elections - Part 3

Tashnak have reportedly rejected any type of alliance with Hariri and the March 14 coalition. Tashnak reiterated that they will be aligned with Aoun in all districts but also stated that they would reach out to all sides before and after the elections. Now Lebanon stated that Tashnak stated that “As it is known, Hariri, during a meeting on March 6 with Tashnaq Secretary General Hovig Mekhitarian, in the presence of MP Michel al-Murr, proposed to exchange four parliamentary seats out of six for us to vote in favor of the March 14 alliance in the Beirut I district, Metn and Zahle.”

The party told Hariri during the second meeting on Tuesday night about the formation of an Armenian bloc to include five deputies, with a sixth reserved for Armenian parties allied with Hariri, which would have the freedom to make political decisions, but the future leader did not respond, according to the statement.