Global Security Watch--Lebanon: A Reference Handbook

By David S. Sorenson | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 3
Political and Economic
Development in Lebanon

Modern Lebanon has one of the most confusing and disorderly political systems in the world. Known as a “confessional” system, it is one of the few political structures based on power apportionment by religious identity. As Chapter 2 indicated, Lebanon has no majority population, a situation with both positive and negative political costs. The advantages are that there is no majority to dominate or control the minorities, something absent in most countries. The negatives include a system that divides power among minorities so that none has a final say in political decisions—majority rule does have advantages. It is not surprising that Lebanon has rarely enjoyed decisive governance, though it has also avoided the worst of “decisive governance,” a totalitarian regime that rules by fiat. It is also handicapped by the fact that its political communities are based on faith, instead of language or region. While language or other forms of ethnicity can certainly infuse emotion into a political milieu, religion has a particular potential to infuse politics with a passion that often makes compromises almost impossible.

Lebanon’s national political system, created by the National Pact of 1946, as noted in Chapter 1, divided power across the national political institutions by religious identity. Thus by agreement, the president is a Maronite Christian, the prime minister is a Sunni Muslim, and the speaker of the National Assembly is a Shi’a Muslim. The president appoints the prime minister and deputy prime minister in consultation with the National Assembly.

Like most modern governments, Lebanon’s system has formal participants, systematized initially by the unwritten National Pact. And, also like other national polities, Lebanon has an informal political system, which is very important because institutional paralysis limits what outputs the formal system produces.

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Global Security Watch--Lebanon: A Reference Handbook
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Introduction 1
  • Chapter 1 - The Modern History of Lebanon 7
  • Chapter 2 - The Demographics of Lebanon 49
  • Chapter 3 - Political and Economic Development in Lebanon 69
  • Chapter 4 - Hezbollah in Lebanon 103
  • Chapter 5 - The Lebanese Regional Neighborhood 121
  • Chapter 6 - Lebanon’s Military Forces 135
  • Chapter 7 - The United States and Lebanon 145
  • Epilogue 157
  • Appendix A - Biographies 161
  • Appendix B - Chronology 169
  • Appendix C - Documents 171
  • Appendix D - Presidents and Prime Ministers of Lebanon 187
  • Glossary 191
  • Index 193
  • About the Author 197
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