Friday, June 5, 2009

IFES Carnegie Final Election Brief

IFES and Carnegie gave a final briefing to journalists for the election on Sunday. Following the last joint briefing by IFES and Carnegie in April.

Richard Chambers, Party Head of IFES in Lebanon, stated that there is an electoral competition in almost all districts. March 8 and March 14 have presented candidate lists almost throughout the country and this has been added to by independent lists in some districts. Thus, these elections are the competitive in a while.

Paul Salem, of Carnegie, stated that these are the first proper free elections since 1972 and outlined three posts-election scenarios:

1. Hung parliament what Salem sees as most likely. "This is where each camp holds large minorities and a group of independents, close to the President, holding the balance of votes," Salem said. Outside powers of Saudi, US and Syria are directly and indirectly trying to push for this occurrence Salem stated. Interestingly, Salem claims that Syria does not want an all out March 8th victory because Aoun has a difficult relationship with Syria and Hezbollah is closer to Iran. So for Syria the best result is a hung parliament and Syria successfully sold this idea to the US and Saudi as the best option, according to Salem.

2. March 14 win. March 14 have stated that they will refuse to grant veto power to March 8 but Salem warns this could lead to violence and should instead get clear commitments from March 8 to move forward on key political and economic issues.

3. March 8 win. Salem states that this could lead to a situation where there is a collapse in support for Lebanon from the international community and the Gulf states. This could lead to "a collapse in confidence in Lebanon and a precipitous decline into economic and social unrest."

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