Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Lebanon’s Governments: Partisan, Sectarian and Political Quotas | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Christian politician Michel Aoun, right, with Lebanon’s former
prime minister, Saad Hariri, left. PHOTO: REUTERS

Beirut- The workshop launched by the nominated Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri to compose his upcoming cabinet has resembled many other workshops launched by other nominated Prime Ministers who worked on distributing quotas and ministerial portfolios based on sects, and political and partisan belonging. However, Hariri’s mission may be the hardest from years, because Lebanese political parties have raced to partake in the rule, months before the next parliamentary elections, aiming at taking advantage of their ministerial portfolios to draw voters in May.

Hariri’s mission was more complicated with the coming apart of 8 and 14 March blocks and the failure of alliances composed in 2005 after the assassination of the Former Prime Minister Rafic Al-Hariri.

Meanwhile, the young Hariri cannot distribute ministries based on political blocks anymore, but he is obliged to deal with each party as an independent political team.

The upcoming Hariri cabinet, which is expected to see the light soon, is the 74th cabinet in Lebanon since the independence on 1948, and the seventh since 2015. Probably, it will be a “national unity” cabinet, which means it will comprise all the political forces just like his previous 30-minister government in 2009.

Cabinets of “majorities” and “national unity”

A proposal by Sami Geagea backed by Minister Boutros Harb, in which they encouraged on composing a cabinet that includes the majority of the ruling team and excludes the opposition has not been accepted by many political parties, mainly the Prime Minister and the President; they considered that the National Unity Government will offer a momentum to the new era.

From 1992 to 2004, the Lebanese cabinets, which were presided by the Late Rafic Hariri, often comprised the ruling majority. In this context, the former Kataeb member and Minister Karim Pakradouni told Asharq Al-Awsat that back then, cabinets never resigned before reaching the required agreement to compose the new government, which seemed adopted as a base. He added that since the assassination of Hariri (father), the forming if cabinets took longer.
Pakradouni considered that the National Unity Government in Lebanon is a must amid the wars and bloody conflicts dominating the region.

Rachid Karami’s records

It is worth mentioning that Lebanon has been ruled by 25 Prime Ministers since 1943. Rachid Karami was the youngest nominee to compose a cabinet; he was 34 years old when he headed his first government in the Era of President Kamil Chamoun; Saaad Hariri is considered the second younger nominee.

Karami has topped the list of prime minister given that he composed ten cabinets from 1955 to 1984, followed by PM Abdullah Al-Yafi with nine governments.

Shortest cabinets

The government composed by Yafi on 12 October 1968 during the rule of President Charles Helou has been considered the shortest-term cabinet in Lebanon’s history because it survived for eight days only to resign on 20 October.
However, the longest-survivng cabinet was composed by Karami on 30 April 1984. He headed it for 37 months till his assassination on the first of June 1987.

Assassinated PMs

It is worth noting that three of Lebanon’s prime ministers were assassinated: Riyad Al-Solh, who was shot in Amman on 16 July 1951; Rashi Karami, who was assassinated through a bomb in his helicopter on 1 June 1987; and Rafic Hariri, who was also bombed in Beirut on 14 March 2005.

Absence of Technocrats

In spite that “Technocrat Governments” have always been discussed before the composition of all Lebanese cabinets, yet they have never been adopted over the past years. According to Nahla al-Shahal, researcher in the political sociology, the Lebanese system, based on Quotas has always absented the option of technocrat.

On another hand, the ministerial statement of post-2005 governments has always represented a major challenge amid the insistence of the so-called Hezbollah on justifying and legitimating its existence and role. Observers have suggested that the upcoming Hariri government will adopt the same format based on the presidential speech of President Michel Aoun, who insisted on the Lebanese right of resistance facing the Israeli enemy.