Saturday, January 06, 2007

Why We're Always Sold Out...

With the death of Pierre Gemayel, a parliamentarian seat has been vacated, and a by-election is looming.

Consensus Candidate?

Initially, there was a consensus on choosing someone from the Kataeb party, maybe Amin Gemayel, to give “the seat back to the Gemayels after having their heir viciously murdered”.

However, with the president delaying the convocation of the electoral assembly on dubious grounds, and with the political tension increasing, consensus is fading away in a “war of polls”.

Now, to avoid an electoral battle, Michel Murr has been trying a “mediation” and save us a “by-elections showdown in the Metn region”.

I would prefer a showdown. This will not only settle the question of Aoun’s popularity, once and for all, but will also provide the ones who claim “March 14” a chance to regain the confidence of the Christian and Armenian street. IF they act smart.

So do many others, who are feel that a “consensus” will holy hide the problems under the rug; only a real electoral fight could make the “these clowns in office ACCOUNTABLE”. The Metn is the closest thing we have to a “normal” electoral district whose MP's can be considered truly representative.

Maybe this search for "consensus" is the reason why those "leaders" of ours are unable to do much, and have to rely on foreign powers to "save their hide". For now, they are happy to get the international tribunal, but it will do little to solve our systemic problems...

Patronage and Hedging

This maybe how dictatorships start and get consolidated; people essentially relinquish their own freedom, either by succumbing to emotions, or by abusing of consensus.

In the sense, we Lebanese are complicit in our own predicament.

Yet, people have little choice in the matter. It is the Lebanese system that is flawed. It is not just the electoral law that is unfair, but mainly the administrative structure that is corrupt beyond logic.

Our system is such that the country is run like a (short term) for-profit business by whoever controls Beirut. Those people happen to be "commissionaires"; with their focus on "short-term" profits, they are no "real" businessman in this sense. Even the great Rafic Hariri was essentially a “deal maker”. No one who “produces” anything “real” can hope to make much headway in Lebanon.

In this context of “deal making”, the government generates between 30% and 35% of GDP, and thus becomes a source of plum jobs, with little accountability for those employed.

For this reason, even in a “Free Lebanon”, people still have to "hedge" during election time, to make sure they maintain access to the powers of patronage of the winner.

This all comes at a price; this patronage has to get its funding from somewhere...

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