The desperate tragicomedy elections

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By Raghida Dergham

After tomorrow’s [May 6] elections in Lebanon, there won’t be a sea change in the country’s political landscape. The sectarian system is deeply entrenched; the dismal electoral law it has produced has only rekindled more sectarianism and engendered selfish and opportunistic alliances and platforms. So-called civil society lost a golden opportunity after fragmenting due to a combination of narcissism, self-seeking ambition and inexperience.

Many civil society interlopers have proven to be no less corrupt than the traditional politicians they seek to displace. The ruling classes, meanwhile, have engaged in feudal-like tactics, trying to bequeath power to their children and bullying outsiders who pose a risk to the status quo.

Political parties and civil society groups have called for a large turnout in the first general election in nine years, during which parliament extended its own term three times. However, these elections are likely to make the country more sectarian, exclusive and aggressive because the electoral law, allegedly proportional, is a blueprint for sedition in a state vulnerable to the geopolitical disturbances taking place in its immediate neighbourhood.

The all-male architects of the electoral law also deliberately sidelined women, snubbing all calls to include a mandatory quota, instead choosing to prevent women from fully participating in decision-making in a country that claims to enshrine equality and modernity.

The elections in Lebanon would have been a comedy, were it not for the damage it could inflict on the democratic process there and its likely disappointing outcome by reproducing an even more sectarian and dynastical parliament. […]

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