Lebanese presidential election, 2014

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Lebanese presidential election, 2014
Lebanon
2008 ←
2014

President before election

Tammam Salam
(acting)
Independent

Elected President

TBD

Coat of arms of Lebanon.svg
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
Lebanon

A presidential election was held in Lebanon on 23 April 2014. No candidate reached a two-thirds majority vote in the first round and consequent rounds failed to gain a quorum.[1] A tenth round is scheduled for 12 August.[2]

Read more: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Lebanon-News/2014/Jul-23/264852-berri-postpones-lebanon-presidential-election-to-aug-12.ashx#ixzz38PpUfoOf (The Daily Star :: Lebanon News :: http://www.dailystar.com.lb) It will precede a parliamentary election.[3]

Background[edit]

Prior to the formation of the Salam government, the main consideration was carrying out the presidential election, which would precede the parliamentary election and a new electoral law. This follows an impasse between the March 14 Alliance and the March 8 Alliance.[4] The Future Movement's former prime minister and parliamentary leader Fouad Siniora had started the process of discussion for the election prior to the government's formation.[5] In regards to the political instability, Speaker Nabih Berri said: "In order to assure [March 14 groups] that our intentions are good, we do not mind holding the presidential election from now. Subsequently, there will no problem over the formation of a [new] government".[6]

In accordance with the consociational power sharing agreement, the Taif Accord, the president of the country must be from the Maronite community, currently independent Michel Suleiman; while the prime minister is Sunni, currently independent Tammam Salam, and the parliamentary speaker is Shia, currently March 8 and Amal movement's Nabih Berri. In addition, the deputy speaker of parliament and the deputy prime minister in Lebanon must be Greek Orthodox.[7][8]

Candidates[edit]

Possible candidates were: Amin Gemayel, Michel Aoun, Suleiman Frangieh, Jr., Samir Geagea, Jean Obeid, Riad Salameh, Jean Kahwaji, Boutros Harb, Robert Ghanem, and Ziad Baroud. Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai could be influential in the decision.[9]

Process[edit]

A parliamentary committee formed by Berri was due to give him their results of their discussions. This includes points such as the intention of MPs from both March 8 and March 14 to attend the parliamentary session to elect a new president and that there was no desire from any party for a constitutional amendment but that an election should be held on time. It also highlighted Rai's role in hailing Berri’s efforts to make a conducive atmosphere for the election.[10]

Campaign[edit]

After the first round of votes, Henri Helou said that he was “not Walid Junblatt’s candidate, or a Trojan horse." It was in reference to Jumblatt naming him as a candidate and not himself. Jumblatt also called for the return of Saad Hariri, who was in self-imposed exile, in order "head an all-embracing cabinet to avert further tension and crises." Geagea added that he would remain in the race "until the end." He also noted that it was in the interests of the country to have a strong state and strong leader.[11]

Election[edit]

As of 25 May, Suleiman's term ended without a successor leading to a political vacuum.[12] In the interim, Prime Minister Tamaam Salam's government is assuming presidential duties.

First round

With a first round victory requiring two-thirds of MPs, or 86 votes, on 23 April Samir Geagea received 48 votes, Henri Hélou 16 votes and Amine Gemayel 1 vote, with 52 votes blank and seven void.[13] The void votes were for candidates who were no longer alive.[11] As all the MPs left after the vote, there was no quorum to hold the second round, which only needed a simple majority of votes.

In reaction, the Carnegie Middle East Center's Mario Abou Zeid said: "Things could develop fairly quickly [today] to either bring certain names to the fore or distance certain names from running, and that needs to be closely watched. Lebanese resistance group Hezbollah is a key player in deciding who gets elected as president. "It's not in their best interest at all to have a kind of president that might go against... their intervention in the Syrian conflict." Habib Malik, associate professor of history at Lebanese American University, added: "Things could develop fairly quickly [today] to either bring certain names to the fore or distance certain names from running, and that needs to be closely watched. Most likely, in traditional Lebanese fashion, a non-descript figure will emerge and will be touted as a reconciliatory, unifying figure." He suggested former MP and foreign minister Jean Obeid, who was said to be close to both Saudi Arabia and Syria.[13]

Later rounds

Jumblatt suggested that there may not be a quorum for the expected second round vote.[11] It was scheduled for 30 April. A third round for 15 May and a fourth round for 22 May. Due to lack of quorum however, the elections were aborted.[citation needed]

Following Hezbollah and FPM's boycott of the four previous sessions to choose a president, the FPM said that it would not attend the fifth session at the end of May unless an agreement over a consensus candidate is made.[14] The round was then aborted.[15] The sixth attempt on 9 June also failed for a lack of a quorum after FPM and Hezbollah maintained their boycott. The session was attended by a new low of 64 MPs, notably PSP leader Walid Jumblatt missed this session, which was his first during the process. The Daily Star suggested that, instead, the main interest on the day was a salary increase for MPs.[16] In the eighth round similarly failed to achieve a quorum and a ninth round was scheduled for 23 July.[17]

Result[edit]

Candidate Party First round Tenth round*
Votes % Votes %
Samir Geagea Lebanese Forces Party 48 37.50
Henri Helou 16 12.50
Amine Gemayel Kataeb Party 1 1.00
Invalid/blank votes 59 46.09
Total 124 96.9
Eligible voters/turnout 128 100

*The interim rounds failed to achieve a quorum.

Domestic developments[edit]

Free Patriotic Movement's MP Michel Aoun said that he would insist on holding the parliamentary election on schedule if Future Movement's Saad Hariri did not support his candidacy for the presidency or if a new president will not be elected before September.[18] Geagea challenged Aoun to run against him or move to a "plan B" that would enable a consensual candidate that is not considered partisan as being from either of the two political alliances, which, in addition to the two, are Phalange's Amine Gemayel and Marada Movement's Suleiman Frangieh.[19]

After the sixth round of voting failed, Lebanese Democratic Party leader Talal Arslan suggested that the president should be directly elected by the people. In doing so, he said: "The presidential crisis is a major insult to the Lebanese nation. [sic] The only way to save the nation and restore respect to the presidency is by holding the election directly by the people."[20] Lebanese Forces MP Antoine Zahra added that Geagea remained the party's candidate and asked: "Do those who are obstructing the session and violating the constitution know that their right to [be] absent from the sessions drops in light of [a] presidential void?" At the same time, Geagea added: "The Lebanese people should address the lawmakers that they elected who are obstructing quorum and question the motives behind their action." Outgoing President Michel Suleiman added: "It is not right to accuse the foreign community of obstructing the presidential election while we are setting preconditions and counter-conditions for the features of the new president. Let us keep the foreign community away from the presidential election and take part in the parliamentary session to vote for a new president."[16]

Lebanon's Grand Mufti Sheikh Mohammad Rashid Qabbani said on 27 June that the “[Presidential void] opens the door for a looseness in security, and invites those who [are willing to] do Lebanon harm. [It] is an abnormal situation that we should attempt to terminate it immediately.”[21]

In the first week of July and in response to Aoun's call for direct popular presidential elections, as well as an electoral draft law to allow each sect to choose its own representatives, Geagea told al-Joumhouria: "Aoun hasn’t proposed a serious initiative. He made a media stir to pressure the Lebanese parties into electing him a president. There is a need for amendments to carry out the presidential polls properly but these changes can be proposed only after the elections."[22] Aoun's proposal would entail Christians voting in a first round and the top two candidates then running in a national election. Geagea's further response included: "The goal of putting forward a constitutional amendment is to divert attention from the presidential election."[23] A constitutional change to have instead of Maronites Druze to President is the direction of Lebanon.

International reaction[edit]

Prior to the sixth round, the United Nations Security Council issued a statement that read: "The Council urges the Parliament to uphold Lebanon’s longstanding democratic tradition and to work to ensure that presidential elections take place as soon as possible and without external interference." It follows Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's comments four days earlier expressing regret overf a failure to elect a new president and calling for a new new one "without delay."[24] Similarly, the International Support Group for Lebanon (ISGL) called for strong work amongst national leaders to quickly elect a new president, while also saying the Tamman Salam government needed to remain functional. U.N. Special Coordinator for Lebanon Derek Plumbly said: "We underline again that there is no international impediment to [holding the presidential election]. On the contrary, while the process must remain a purely Lebanese one, Lebanon’s friends within the international community stand ready to offer Lebanon every possible encouragement and support at this time."[25]

On a visit surprise to Beirut in early June, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called for the speedy election of a president.[26] A delegation from the Holy See also visited the country in the end of June to meet with Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros al-Rahi. They were scheduled to discuss the election amid rumours that the latter was planning a trip to other countries to try and resolve the impasse over the election.[27]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Strike six in Lebanon's presidential election". The Daily Star. 9 June 2014. 
  2. ^ "Berri postpones Lebanon presidential election to Aug. 12". The Daily Star. 23 July 2014.  Text "http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Lebanon-News/2014/Jul-23/264852-berri-postpones-lebanon-presidential-election-to-aug-12.ashx#axzz38Pk0Vfc2" ignored (help)
  3. ^ "Lebanon forms new government after months of political deadlock". The Guardian. 15 February 2014. 
  4. ^ "Presidential election tops the agenda". The Daily Star. Retrieved 2014-02-17. 
  5. ^ "Future launches campaign to facilitate presidential election". The Daily Star. Retrieved 2014-02-17. 
  6. ^ "Berri says would back early presidential election". The Daily Star. Retrieved 2014-02-17. 
  7. ^ "Lebanon's Confessionalism: Problems and Prospects". United States Institute of Peace. 2009-03-22. Archived from the original on 2009-03-22. Retrieved 2013-01-17. 
  8. ^ Marie-Joëlle Zahar. "Chapter 9 Power sharing in Lebanon: Foreign protectors, domestic peace, and democratic failure". Archived from the original on 2011-06-13. Retrieved 2013-01-17. 
  9. ^ "10-Horse Race to Lebanon’s Presidential Palace". Al Akhbar English. 2013-12-27. Retrieved 2014-02-17. 
  10. ^ "Lebanon's Arabic press digest - Apr. 5, 2014". The Daily Star. Retrieved 2014-04-23. 
  11. ^ a b c "Diminishing likelihood of Lebanon presidential poll". GulfNews.com. Retrieved 2014-07-20. 
  12. ^ Al, Abdulrahman (2014-05-25). "Presidential vacuum begins in Lebanon". Aawsat.net. Retrieved 2014-07-20. 
  13. ^ a b Vidya Kauri. "Lebanon parliament fails to elect president". Al Jazeera English. Retrieved 2014-07-20. 
  14. ^ "Aoun's bloc will not attend this week's presidential election session". The Daily Star. Retrieved 2014-07-20. 
  15. ^ "Lebanon fails again to elect a new president". Journal of Turkish Weekly. 30 April 2014. 
  16. ^ a b "Strike six in Lebanon's presidential election". The Daily Star. Retrieved 2014-07-20. 
  17. ^ "Lebanese MPs fail to elect president for eighth time". 2 July 2014. 
  18. ^ "Aoun wants either Hariri’s support or Parliament elections". The Daily Star. Retrieved 2014-07-20. 
  19. ^ "Geagea challenges Aoun to run against him or move to plan B". Ya Libnan. 2014-05-29. Retrieved 2014-07-20. 
  20. ^ "President should be elected by the people: Arslan". The Daily Star. Retrieved 2014-07-20. 
  21. ^ "Qabbani: Presidential void damaging security". The Daily Star. Retrieved 2014-07-20. 
  22. ^ "Geagea: Aoun is deceiving Lebanese to become president". Ya Libnan. 2014-07-04. Retrieved 2014-07-20. 
  23. ^ http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2014/07/02/Lebanese-MPs-fail-to-elect-president-for-eighth-time.html
  24. ^ "Lebanon: Security Council urges speedy election amid presidential vacuum". Un.org. 2014-05-29. Retrieved 2014-07-20. 
  25. ^ "International Support Group for Lebanon calls for presidential election without delay". The Daily Star. Retrieved 2014-07-20. 
  26. ^ "Kerry urges the election of strong Lebanese president". The Daily Star. Retrieved 2014-07-20. 
  27. ^ "Vatican Delegation Visits Lebanon, Al-Rahi Heads on Foreign Tour over Presidential Elections". Naharnet.com. 2014-06-28. Retrieved 2014-07-20.