Monday 16 Jul 2018 | 13:09 | SYDNEY
Monday 16 Jul 2018 | 13:09 | SYDNEY

Lebanon election: Strange days indeed


Rodger Shanahan


1 June 2009 16:24

I will write more after this Saturday's election results are announced, but in the run-up to polling day, it is perhaps an apt time to look at some of the lesser-known aspects of the election. Lebanese politics, with its parliamentary quotas based on confessional identity, requires even more compromise than in other political systems, which makes for strange bedfellows.

Lebanon-watchers will already be well aware of the former Lebanese chief of staff and arch anti-Syrian Lebanese nationalist Michel Aoun throwing in his lot with the Hizbullah-led opposition for personal political gain. The dangers of Christian-Shi'a campaigning are well illustrated in this piece on a recent rally by supporters of Aoun's Free Patriotic Movement (FPM). Hizbullah has also gained the support of Lebanon's Christian Armenian bloc, although with the Armenians' focus on communal survival and advancement, this marriage is avowedly one of convenience and unlikely to experience the campaigning faux pas that the FPM experienced.
The possibility of Hizbullah doing well in the election has also exercised some minds, including that of US Vice-President Joe Biden. Media reports that Hizbullah had been sourcing IMF loans in anticipation of an opposition 'victory' and associated downturn in bilateral financial assistance from the US forced a denial from the Fund. A report linking Hizbullah with the assassination of Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri also surfaced in the German weekly, Der Spiegel, prompting denials from the organisation. Coming as it did two weeks before the election and without corroboration, one would have to say that the timing was somewhat suspicious.
And for those who think going to the local school or town hall on a Saturday morning to vote in Australia is a hassle, shame on you. Civic-minded Lebanese passport holders are traveling back to the old country to exercise their electoral right, if this article is any guide (okay, with perhaps some assistance to get there).
As for the two blocs' policy platforms ? Mmmmm, I'll have to do some research and get back to you.