The endurance of Lebanese consociational democracy

Teuteberg, Salome Marjanne (2011-03)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2011.

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The small Middle Eastern country of Lebanon was once recognised as the exemplar of power-sharing democracy, upholding a system that promoted peace and coexistence between Christians and Muslims. Power was divided proportionally amongst confessional groups, granting each sect power according to their demographic proportion. This division of power was aimed at promoting national unity, but changes in the Lebanese demography made the division undemocratic, and the constitution no longer accurately represented Lebanese society. The 1926 constitution, supplemented by the National Pact in 1943, which had upheld this division of power, baulked under the pressure of a 15-year civil war, to the surprise of many scholars who had praised the Lebanese system. While many place the blame on the outside influences, it has been determined that the problem lay within the system. The static characteristic of the system did not sufficiently provide for changing demographics, or a change in interest groups. The problem lay in the fixed nature of the proportionality of the consociational system. The prolonged civil war, sometimes referred to as a proxy war between Israel and Syria, came to an end with the signing of the Taif Accord in 1990. Though none were satisfied with its provision, the Accord brought an end to the escalating violence. The Accord paved the way for the rebuilding of state institutions, enabling parliamentary elections in 1992 and 1996; general municipal elections in 1998; the peaceful transfer of power between presidents; as well as the reconstruction of the Lebanese economy. The main objective of this study of Lebanon is to determine whether the amended Lebanese constitution of 1990 adheres to the principles provided in the theoretical framework regarding constitutional endurance. This study is in the form of a qualitative case study. It aims to describe, at length, and to form an in-depth understanding of the actors and events leading up to the Taif Accord, as well as the formation and implementation thereof. The research questions include: What factors relating to flexibility, specificity and inclusion contributed to the breakdown of the 1943 National Pact?; What steps were taken leading to the Taif Accord?; and Have the changes made in the Lebanese constitution by means of the 1990 Taif Accord facilitated the endurance of the constitution? The study aims to contribute through its application of the theoretical framework to a particular case study, namely that of Lebanon. By 'testing' this theoretical framework, this study also provides an in-depth analysis of the happenings in Lebanon over the past 80 years. It remains in question whether the Taif Accord‟s amendments to the constitution have sufficiently provided for the resilience of thereof. Twenty years of relative peace have not convinced Lebanese citizens of the legitimacy and efficacy of the Accord. While the over-centralisation of power within the system was curbed by shifting power away from the president to a cabinet equally divided between Christian and Muslims, the Accord failed to effectively deal with the preset nature of the proportionality within the system. 20 years of relative peace may be enough to ensure the endurance of the constitution, but regional factors as well as the presence of radicalised groups play an important role in destabilising the fragile balance within the country. Should the Lebanese state continue to be inclusive and flexible in the wake of a constantly changing environment, it may endure. However, the tumultuous nature of the region in which Lebanon finds itself may eventually provide external shocks that the Lebanese system fails to weather. The hope is that the system builds on sound, systemic foundations in order to be able to endure regional conflict.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die klein Midde-Oosterse land Lebanon, was vroeër 'n voorbeeld van 'n magsdelende demokrasie wat 'n stelsel gehandhaaf het wat vrede en naasbestaan tussen Christene en Moslems bevorder het. Mag is proporsioneel onder geloofsgroepe verdeel volgens hul demografiese verhouding tot die ander groepe. Hierdie verdeling van mag was gemik op die bevordering van nasionale eenheid, maar veranderinge in die Lebanese demografie het veroorsaak dat die grondwet nie meer verteenwoordigend was van die Lebanese samelewing nie. Die Lebanese Grondwet van 1926, tesame met die Nasionale Verdrag van 1943, wat hierdie verdeling gehandhaaf het, het onder die druk van 'n 15-jare Burgeroorlog inmekaar gestort, ten spyte van die vertroue wat in die stelsel was. Alhoewel die skuld soms op eksterne invloede geplaas is, is dit egter bepaal dat die probleem in die Lebanese stelsel self lê. Die statiese kenmerk van die stelsel het nie voldoende voorsiening gemaak vir 'n verandering in die demografie of belangegroepe nie. Die probleem lê in die statiese en onwrikbare aard van die konsosiatiewe stelsel. Die uitgerekte Burgeroorlog, soms gesien as 'n oorlog tussen Israel en Sirië op Lebanese grond, is tot 'n einde gebring met die ondertekening van die Taif Verdrag in 1990. Alhoewel geen betrokke party ten volle tevrede was met die bepalinge van die Verdrag nie, het dit 'n einde gebring aan die toenemende geweld. Die Verdrag het die weg gebaan vir die heropbou van staatsinstellings; parlementêre verkiesings in 1992 en 1996; algemene munisipale verkiesings in 1998; die vreedsame oordrag van mag tussen presidente; sowel as die heropbou van die Lebanese ekonomie. Die hoof doel van hierdie studie van Lebanon is om te bepaal of die gewysigde grondwet van 1990 voldoen aan die beginsels van die teoretiese raamwerk rakende grondwetlike uithouvermoë. Die studie is in die vorm van 'n kwalitatiewe gevallestudie. Dit het ten doel om te beskryf en 'n in-diepte begrip van die akteurs en die gebeure wat gelei het tot die Taif Accord, asook die vorming en implementering daarvan te vorm. Die navorsing vrae sluit in: Watter faktore met betrekking tot buigsaamheid, spesifisiteit en insluiting het bygedra tot die verval van die 1943 National Pact?; Watter stappe is geneem wat gelei tot die Taif Verdrag?; en Het die veranderinge in die Lebanese grondwet deur middel van die 1990 Taif Verdrag die langdurigheid van die grandwet gefasiliteer? studie het ten doel om by te dra deur middel van sy toepassing van die teoretiese raamwerk om 'n bepaalde gevallestudie, naamlik dat van die Lebanon. Hierdie studie verskaf ook 'n in-diepte analise van die gebeure in Lebanon oor die afgelope 80 jaar. Die vraag bly staan of die Taif Verdrag se wysigings aan die grondwet voldoende voorsiening gemaak het vir die oorlewing van die grondwet. Twintig jaar van relatiewe vrede het nog nie Lebanese burgers oortuig van die legitimiteit en doeltreffendheid van die Verdrag nie. Alhoewel die oor-sentralisering van mag binne die stelsel ingeperk is deur die verskuiwing van mag weg van die President, na 'n kabinet wat gelykop tussen Christene en Moslems verdeel is, het die Verdrag versuim om effektief met die proporsionele aard van die grondwet te handel. Dit is egter belangrik om op die uniekheid van die Lebanese geval te let, ten spyte van die vele faktore rondom die saak. Hoewel 20 jaar van vrede genoegsaam kan wees om die langdurigheid van 'n grondwet te verseker, speel streeksfaktore, sowel as die teenwoordigheid van radikale groepe 'n belangrike rol in die destabilisering van die fyn balans wat in die land voorkom. Indien die Lebanese staat voortgaan om inklusief en buigsaam te wees in die nasleep van 'n voortdurende, veranderende omgewing, sal dit kan voortleef. Maar die onstuimige aard van die streek waarin Lebanon homself bevind mag eksterne negatiewe faktore na vore bring wat die Lebanese stelsel nie kan hanteer nie. Die hoop is dat hierdie stelsel sal voortbou op sterk, sistemiese fondasies om in staat te wees om eksterne, sowel as interne, konflik te hanteer.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/6577
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