Politics in Lebanon

Government Type:
Parliamentary republic.

Real name:
Al Jumhuriyah al Lubnaniyah (Republic of Lebanon)

Data code:
LE

Capital:
Beirut

Administrative divisions:

5 governorates (muhafazat, singular - muhafazah): Al Biqa, Al Janub, Ash Shamal, Beirut and Jabal Lubnan.

Independence:
22 November 1943 (from League of Nations mandate under French administration).

National holidays:
New Year's DayJanuary 1rst
Islamic New Year* May 18
Ashoura* May 27
St. MarounFebruary 9
Birthday of the Prophet* July 27
Good Friday (West)* April 5
Easter Monday* April 8
Good Friday* April 12
Easter Monday* April 15
Labor DayMay 1rst
Martyr DayMay 6
Virgin Mary ResurrectionAugust 15
All SaintsNovember 1rst
Eid Al-Fitr* February 1
Independence DayNovember 22 (1943)
Al Adha* April 27
ChristmasDecember 25
Note:
*Approximate dates: Moslem holidays follow the lunary Moslem calendar and take place some 10 to 11 days earlier each year on the Christian calendar.

Constitution:
23 May 1926, amended a number of times.

Legal system:
Mixture of Ottoman law, canon law, Napoleonic code, and civil law; no judicial review of legislative acts; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction.

Suffrage:
21 years of age; compulsory for all males; authorized for women at age 21 with elementary education

Executive branch:
By custom, the president is a Maronite Christian (elected by simple majority of parliament for 6-year term), the prime minister is a Sunni Muslim, and the speaker of the legislature is a Shi'a Muslim

Chief of state: President Elias Hrawi (since 24 November 1989)

Head of government: Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri (since 22 October 1992)

Speaker of the legislature: President of the National Assembly Nabih Berri

Cabinet: The Cabinet is chosen by the president in consultation with the members of the National Assembly. The current cabinet was formed 1995.

Legislative branch:
unicameral

National Assembly:
(Arabic - Majlis Alnuwab, French - Assemblee Nationale) Lebanon's first legislative election in 20 years was held in the summer of 1992; the National Assembly is composed of 128 deputies, one-half Christian and one-half Muslim; its mandate expires in 1996.

Judicial branch:
Four Courts of Cassation (three courts for civil and commercial cases and one court for criminal cases).

Political parties and leaders:
Political party activity is organized along largely sectarian lines; numerous political groupings exist, consisting of individual political figures and followers motivated by religious, clan, and economic considerations.

History of the Political Parties

Member of:
ABEDA, ACCT, AFESD, AL, AMF, CCC, ESCWA, FAO, G-24, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICFTU, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, ILO, IMF, IMO, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, ITU, NAM, OIC, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNRWA, UPU, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO

Flag:
Three horizontal bands of red (top), white (double width), and red with a green and brown cedar tree centered in the white band.

Lebanon's Defense Forces
The Creation of the Lebanese Army
The Organization of the Lebanese Army
National Security

Branches:
Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF; including Army, Navy, and Air Force)

Manpower availability:
Males age 15-49: 827,267; fit for military service: 514,291 (1994 est.)
Males age 15-49: 889,517; fit for military service: 553,538 (1996 est.)

Defense expenditures:
Exchange rate conversion - $271 million, 8.2% of GDP (1992 budget)
Exchange rate conversion - $278 million, 5.5% of GDP (1994 budget)

Source: CIA, World Fact Book 1994, 1996

Political Conditions:
In addition to its indigenous political groupings, Lebanon contains branches of many other political parties of the Arab world. These cover the political spectrum from far left to far right, from totally secular to wholly religious and often are associated with a particular religion or geographic region. Palestinian refugees, numbering about 400,000 and predominantly Muslim, constitute an important and sensitive minority.

Lebanese political parties are generally vehicles for powerful leaders whose followers are often of the same religious sect. The interplay for position and power among these leaders and groups produces a political tapestry of extraordinary complexity.

In the past, this system worked to produce a viable democracy. Recent events, however, have upset the delicate Muslim-Christian balance and resulted in a tendency for Christians and Muslims to group themselves for safety into distinct zones. All factions have called for a reform of the political system.

Some Christians favor political and administrative decentralization of the government, with separate Muslim and Christian sectors operating within the framework of a confederation. Muslims, for the most part, prefer a unified, central government with an enhanced share of power for themselves commensurate with their percentage of the population. The reforms of the Taif agreement moved in this latter direction.

Source: THE BUREAU OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE

Useful Links

  • Middle East Intelligence Bulletin
  • Embassy of Lebanon in Canada
  • , Ottawa
  • Embassy of Lebanon in the USA
  • , Washington D.C.
  • Lebanon Government, Politics and Public Affairs
  • , IDREL
  • Lebanon Law
  • , IDREL


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    1997-2000 by Ayman Ghazi
    agh@techfak.uni-kiel.de
    Last changes: May 10, 2000