Four years ago I returned with energy and hope to be part of a process of change for the better, only to find that during this period, things changed dramatically for the worse. Of course the neighboring war in Syrian contributed greatly to this decline, but the political paralysis was due to the behavior of the leading political figures and groups and their disrespect for the constitution and the exercise of their own responsibilities over that period of time. I am hoping that with the election of The President this will all change. The preceding period led to a failing state, a flat and dangerously declining economy and non-existent social welfare.
In addition, most of the institutions are still functioning on life-support. The process of Democracy has not yet been restored since parliament extended its own mandate twice in a row. The present talk of another extension is a further indication that Democracy is still perceived as the handmaiden of the politicians instead of it being the dictate of the Constitution.
In the recent municipal elections where voter turn out was only on average 40%, which tells us that the majority of the results obtained were partial at best, and not representative of the whole population as some claim. In fact, the only thing that such a low turn-out represents is the overall disappointment and rejection by the population of the existing political configuration. Though it was refreshing to see new movements of dissension arise, it was equally depressing to see them overcome everywhere by the habitual format of political outcomes due to voter complacency.
The worst feeling that any person wanting to contribute to his or her country feels today is the sense of inability to change anything and the fact that it is a closed system to newcomers because of the hegemony of the existing oligarchies which has been institutionalized by an electoral law that is construed to protect their monopoly on power and a function of the ruling classes’ entrenchment and reluctance to change anything, even when confronted with revolt, as during the summer of last year at the time when the waste management crisis was at its peak.
The inclination and tendency therefore will be to proceed with Parliamentary elections based on the law of 1960, which guarantees that the control of the political establishment will continue as it is.
If Lebanon is ever allowed to emerge from the stagnation it is facing it will only happen through the arrival of a new political class to power. I believe that are three ways to do this:
1-) Make elections mandatory for all Lebanese between the age of 18 and 80 in order to force people out of their lethargy and resignation.
2-) Bring back the number of deputies to 108 as specified in Taef and remove the 20 deputies added during the Syrian occupation which are not representative of their constituents.
3-) Enact an electoral law based on proportional representation with large districts to break geographic and confessional hegemonies, or a one-man one-vote system to reflect the more accurate national role of legislators.
If the present leaders proceed with the law of 1960, I guarantee you that the inertia will persist and there will be no recourse to bring about change for the next 4 years. I do not recommend that this be allowed to happen.
The big battle ahead of us now is to say no to the majority law of 1960 and to fight for the three solutions outlined above.