Elections in Lebanon
|This article is outdated. (May 2011)|
|This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
Parliamentary electoral system
Lebanon's national legislature is called the Assembly of Representatives (Majles el Nuwwéb in Lebanese). Since the elections of 1992 (the first since the reforms of the Taif Agreement of 1989) removed the built-in majority previously enjoyed by Christians. The Parliament has had 128 seats and the term is four years.
Seats in the Parliament are confessionally distributed but elected by universal suffrage. Each religious community has an allotted number of seats in the Parliament (see the table below). They do not represent only their co-religionists, however; all candidates in a particular constituency, regardless of religious affiliation, must receive a plurality of the total vote, which includes followers of all confessions. The system was designed to minimize inter-sectarian competition and maximize cross-confessional cooperation: candidates are opposed only by co-religionists, but must seek support from outside of their own faith in order to be elected.
In practice, this system has led to charges of gerrymandering. The opposition Qornet Shehwan Gathering, a group opposed to the previous pro-Syrian regimes, has claimed that constituency boundaries have been drawn so as to allow many Shi'a Muslims to be elected from Shi'a-majority constituencies (where the Hizbullah Party is strong), while allocating many Christian members to Muslim-majority constituencies, forcing Christian politicians to represent Muslim interests. (Similar charges, but in reverse, were made against the Chamoun administration in the 1950s).
The following table sets out the confessional allocation of seats in the Parliament before and after the Taif Agreement.
|Confession||Before Taif||After Taif|
Before the next election in 2013, the electoral law will be reformed. Among the changes most likely are a reduction of the voting age from 21 to 18, a more proportional electoral system, reforms to the oversight of elections and an invitation for Lebanese voters from abroad to register in the embassies, although there is no clear promise of them being able to vote from abroad.
Lebanon has numerous political parties, but they play a much less significant role in Lebanese politics than they do in most parliamentary democracies. Many of the "parties" are simply lists of candidates endorsed by a prominent national or local figure. Loose coalitions, usually organized locally, are formed for electoral purposes by negotiation among clan leaders and candidates representing various religious communities; such coalitions usually exist only for the election, and rarely form a cohesive bloc in the Parliament after the election. No single party has ever won more than 12.5 percent of the seats in the Parliament, and no coalition of parties has won more than 35 percent.
Especially outside of the major cities, elections tend to focus more on local than national issues, and it is not unusual for a party to join an electoral ticket in one constituency while aligned with a rival party - even an ideologically opposite party - in another constituency.
Lebanese presidential elections are indirect, with the President being elected to a 6-year term by the Parliament.
The last elections took place on June 7, 2009. The Rafik Hariri Martyr List, an anti-Syrian bloc led by Saad Hariri, captured control of the legislature winning 71 of the 128 available seats. The Amal-Hezbollah alliance won 30 seats, with 27 seats going to the Free Patriotic Movement and allied parties.
- Adam Carr's Election Archive
- Libanvote: an exhaustive record of all elections since 1927, with a constituency-by-constituency breakdown of votes by candidate, together with any subsequent byelections for particular constituencies.
- Mohammad Bazzi: Lebanese Election Preview Council on Foreign Relations
- Naharnet Elections 2009 Coverage: Candidate and District News
- Election Laws and Codes (Arabic)
- Seat Allocation by Confession by District (map) (Arabic)
- Sharek961 empowers Lebanese citizens to promote transparency by sending in eyewitness reports on all election-related incidents or issues. People across Lebanon can send in reports through SMS, email, and the web.