Global Politics

Politics of change in Lebanon

Local religious and political leaders as well as regular folk line up on weekends at the home of this Druze leader. Politicians here are like feudal lords. A subject may come to ask for anything from improved roads in his village to an improvement with a school. This analyst says this unique because Lebanon doesn't have any issue-based politics, which means politics runs strictly on personal and sectarian divides. And Lebanon's winner takes all system ensures that regional power brokers effectively function as political parties. This analyst says a system should happen where several parties all get seats in Parliament. He was on a commission that came up with suggestions for electoral reform. He says if a law was passed that says a party must receive 10-20% of the votes in all districts to be represented in parliament, it would completely transform the electoral system, and many countries have that law. But this analyst says that won't happen any time soon in Lebanon. But there are groups on the ground trying to change things. This Harvard educated Lebanese man has created a group of intellectuals from different religious and geographical backgrounds in Lebanon. They've united to create a larger group of the silent majority against the old political systems. The men and women in the movement know they have a hard road against them. Other would-be reformers aren't as pessimistic, but also don't have as ambitious of goals. This reformer just want candidates to be elected based on their merits, but also knows he has to work within the current system. He's asking for help from Western influences and organizations, but many Westerners don't want to be seen as backing one group over another and dividing the country even further. The new election law does include some media reforms which many see as a positive step forward.

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