The National Pact (Arabic: الميثاق الوطني) is an unwritten agreement that laid the foundation of Lebanon as a multi-confessional state, having shaped the country to this day. Following negotiations between the Shi'ite, Sunni, and Maronite leaderships, the National Pact was born in the summer of 1943, allowing Lebanon to be independent.
Key points of the agreement include:
- Maronite Christians not seek foreign intervention, and accept an Arab-affiliated Lebanon, instead of a Western one
- Muslims abandon their aspirations to unite with Syria.
- The President of the Republic is always Maronite.
- The Prime Minister of the Republic is always Sunni Muslim.
- The Speaker of the National Assembly is always Shi'a Muslim.
- The Deputy Speaker of the Parliament and the Deputy Prime Minister are always Greek Orthodox Christian.
- The Chief of the General Staff is always Druze.
- Parliament members are always in a ratio of 6:5 in favour of Christians to Muslims.
A Christian majority in the 1932 census – widely considered manipulated in their favour – was the underpinning of a government structure that gave the Christians control of the presidency, command of the armed forces, and a parliamentary majority. However, following a wider trend, the generally poorer Muslim population has increased faster than the richer Christians. Additionally, the Christians were emigrating in large numbers, further eroding their only marginal population edge, and it soon became clear that Christians wielded a disproportionate amount of power. As years passed without a new census, dissatisfaction with the government structure and sectarian rifts increased, eventually sparking the Lebanese civil war. The Taif Agreement of 1989 changed the ratio of Parliament to 1:1 and reduced the power of the Maronite president.
However, the first ministerial meeting, that took place in October 1943, in which it is believed the national pact was first enunciated, completely contradicts this version of the National Pact. In fact, the meeting emphasized the importance of a secular state, in which all sectarian features should be removed. This, of course, is the complete opposite of what most have considered the true version of the National Pact. Nevertheless, the meeting is more reliable, as written proof of what has been agreed upon by all members of parliament is available.
- Binder 1966: 276
- Randal 1983: 50
- Ayubi, Nazih N., "Over-stating the Arab State", London: I.B. Tauris, 1995, pp 190–191.
- Binder, Leonard. "Politics in Lebanon". New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc, 1966.
- Randal, Jonathan. "Going All the Way: Christian Warlords, Israeli Adventurers, and the War in Lebanon". New York: The Viking Press, 1983.
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