President of Lebanon
|President of the Republic of Lebanon|
|First holder||Bechara El Khoury
22 November 1943
The President of the Republic of Lebanon is the head of state of Lebanon. The president is elected by the Parliament of Lebanon for a term of six years, which is not immediately renewable. By convention, the president is always a Maronite Christian.
From the expiration of the term of president Michel Suleiman in May 2014, until present, parliament has been unable to obtain the majority required to elect a president, and the office has been vacant, despite more than 30 votes being held. In response to the deadlock, Michel Aoun has suggested amending the constitution to make the presidency popularly elected. Under the proposal, Lebanese Christians would choose two candidates who would run in a national election in which all voters were eligible to participate.
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The constitution requires the president hold the same qualifications as a member of Parliament (also called the Chamber of Deputies), which are Lebanese citizenship and attainment of the age of twenty-one.
Though not specifically stated in the constitution, an understanding known as the National Pact, agreed in 1943, customarily limits the office to members of the Maronite Christian faith. This is based on a gentlemen's agreement between Lebanon's Maronite Christian President Bechara El Khoury and his Sunni Muslim Prime Minister Riad Al Solh, which was reached in 1943, when Lebanon became independent of France, and described that the President of the Republic was to be a Maronite Christian, the Prime Minister a Sunni Muslim, and the Speaker of Parliament a Shia Muslim.
|“||I swear by Almighty God to observe the Constitution and the laws of the Lebanese Nation and to maintain the independence of Lebanon and its territorial integrity.||”|
Role and responsibilities
As described in the constitution, the president is commander-in-chief of the Lebanese Armed Forces and security forces; may appoint and dismiss the prime minister and cabinet; promulgates laws passed by Parliament; may also veto bills; and may dissolve Parliament. In practice, however, Lebanon being a parliamentary republic, the president is essentially the repository of reserve powers and the office is is largely symbolic.
Thirty to sixty days before the expiration of a president's term, the speaker of the Chamber of Deputies calls for a special session to elect a new president, which selects a candidate for a six-year term on a secret ballot in which a two-thirds majority is required to elect. If no candidate receives a two-thirds majority, a second ballot is held in which only a majority is required to elect. An individual cannot be reelected president until six years have passed from the expiration of his or her first term.
Quorum for an election
The Constitution is silent on the issue of the quorum needed to call to order a parliamentary presidential electoral meeting. In the absence of a clear provision designating the quorum needed to elect the President, the constitution is open to differing interpretations. According to one view on the issue, a quorum constituting a majority of fifty-percent plus one (that required for any meeting of Parliament) is sufficient for a parliamentary presidential electoral meeting. Another view on the issue argues that the quorum is a two-third majority of the total members of Parliament as Article 49 of the constitution requires a two-third voting majority to elect the President in the first round and, if the quorum were half plus one, there would have been no need to require the two-third voting majority when the number of deputies present at the meeting does not exceed the quorum.
- "Lebanese MPs fail to elect president for eighth time". Reuters. 2 July 2014. Retrieved 15 July 2016.
- "Why Lebanon Cannot Pick a President". stratfor.com. Stratfor. Retrieved 15 July 2016.
- Collelo, Thomas (1987). Lebanon: A Country Study. Government Printing Office. ISBN 0160017319.
- Harb, Imad. "Lebanon's Confessionalism: Problems and Prospects". usip.org. United States Institute of Peace. Retrieved 15 July 2016.
- "Lebanon - Constitution". unibe.ch. International Constitutional Law Project. Retrieved 15 July 2016.
- Mordechai Nisan, Minorities in the Middle East: A History of Struggle and Self-Expression (2d ed.: McFarland, 2002), p. 219.
- Saliba, Issam. "Lebanon: Presidential Election and the Conflicting Constitutional Interpretations". loc.gov. Library of Congress. Retrieved 15 July 2016.