Lebanese general election, 2017
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General elections were supposed to be held in Lebanon in 2014. However, the failure of Parliament in electing a new President, two thirds of the body extended its own term until 2017 despite the FPM Bloc urging for a general election.
Following the last election, it took several months to form a new government. Saad Hariri eventually became prime minister in a March 14 government. About a year later, Walid Jumblatt's PSP broke away from the March 14 alliance and withdrew its ministers. Jumblatt then traveled to Syria for the first time in decades and met President Bashar al-Assad. After the government fell over the issue of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, a new government was formed by Najib Mikati that consisted of March 8 alliance parties, as well as the PSP.
Over the course of the Syrian civil war, fissures started to grow in Lebanon as March 14 parties supported the opposition in Syria and March 8 parties were ostensibly supportive of the Syrian government, particularly in the early stages, and faced accusation from the opposition and its affiliated media of kowtowing to the Syrian government. As the conflict started to spill over into Lebanon, both via refugees and Lebanon's own diverse demographics that are broadly reflective of Syria's own diversity, tensions started to grow. A spate of sectarian kidnappings and threats followed, some of which turned fatal.
On 22 March 2013, Mikati resigned citing a negative climate over the appointment of a committee to oversee the election and the extension of Internal Security Forces (ISF) head Ashraf Rifi, who was expected to retire in April. On 5 April, a new March 14-backed consensus candidate for prime minister was announced, Tammam Salam.
The 128 members of parliament will be elected from 26 multi-member constituencies. Voters cast as many votes as seats in their constituency. The candidates with the highest number of votes within each religious community are elected. Expatriate voting will be possible after the government approved a law allowing voter registration outside the country.
In summer 2012, Tashnag re-iterated its commitment to the Christian alliance with the Free Patriotic Movement and its leader Michel Aoun as part of the March 8 alliance. However, it also held talks with March 14 alliance parties, partly as a result of municipal elections that enabled it to work with the other parties. Metn MP Hagop Pakradounian paid a visit to Sami Gemayel in order to "dispel the heavy summer clouds that overshadowed the previous period. [Today] we have no fundamental political quarrel with the Phalangists, but we differ due to their membership of March 14. So we prefer to discuss what we agree on. We are comfortable with our alliance with the FPM, and also open to all options. Our aim is to form broad alliances across the entirety Christian street;" while he also paid a visit to Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea, though he said that "Geagea has a representative capacity which we respect, and we appreciate his gesture toward us. But our political disagreements exceed our areas of agreement." On the other hand, Tashnag's relations with MP Michel Murr were stronger, as Pakradounian said: "We have a permanent honeymoon. We confer continually, although we haven’t yet spoken in detail about the elections." Yet he also said of the FPM that "the goodwill shown by the Aounists who reached out to form an alliance with us, refusing to let the Armenian vote and voice be sidelined or the Tashnag excluded from government. [Our ties are] unbreakable, however hard those who don’t like it may try, [more so that it does not commit it to any specific policy line]." Another March 14 party they opposed was the Future Movement, whom Secretary-General Hovig Mekhitarian was said to have been given a promise by then leader Rafik al-Hariri as part of the 2005 election to give the party "proper" representation in parliament, but his son, Saad Hariri then opted to "retain his father’s employees." The party's relations with Walid Jumblatt's Progressive Socialist Party were said to be informal with no progress beyond protocol visits. Pakradounian explained Tashnag's concern as lying with the "subservience" of smaller Armenian parties, who do not decide the community’s MPs nor have a say in the selection of other MPs, he cited, however, that Tashnag "makes its decisions independently, through internal party discussions, without any pressure from its allies." As a result, Aounists in Metn were said to be confident that the election "will be a replica of 2009 in terms of the alliances, lists and the vacant Armenian seat [even though] some of the Tashnag’s votes will go to Sami Gemayel and Michel Murr." The party also refuted allegations that it was Syria's stooge, with Pakradounian saying: "We have no vested interests with Damascus. We do not own apartments or palaces there. Our party didn’t crawl down the road to Damascus when the Syrians were present in Lebanon, and didn’t change its tune once they left."
Since the Lebanese Civil War, electoral campaigns have increasingly relied on marketing strategies. This was especially true for FPM and Kataeb, who had leading marketers run their campaign for the party and individual candidates. This included such measures as choosing party colours.
Since a new President should have been elected by Parliament before the legislative elections could have taken place, and because of the deadlock which has resulted in fourteen fruitless attempts at choosing a Head of State, Parliament decided on November 5, 2014 to extend its term by 2 years, 7 months. The deadlock is related to the ongoing situation in the Syrian Civil War, where both sides have major Lebanese parties as allies, as well as the intricacies of Lebanon's confessional political system.
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- "IPU PARLINE database: LEBANON (Majlis Al-Nuwwab), Electoral system". Inter-Parliamentary Union. Retrieved 22 August 2012.
- Lebanese Expats: Tilting the Delicate Balance Al Akhbar, 25 April 2012
- "Lebanon's Tashnag: Making Friends With Everyone". Al Akhbar. 27 July 2012. Retrieved 10 March 2013.