High-ranking political sources do not expect presidential elections to take place any time soon, as made clear by recent events including the latest parliamentary session, which they said was a process to bide time until a regional agreement matures.
However, according to a high-ranking Lebanese official, Wednesday’s session was a good start for the election process and democracy as a whole, even if it occurred outside the regional and international context.
In his opinion, the seven ballots cast naming the victims of the Lebanese Civil War reflect the deep divisions between Lebanese politicians, which appears to be resistant to clemency.
He believes that the normalization of relations between Lebanese political parties, sects, and religions will not be successful without a conference aimed at reconciling divided parties, such as the one that was to be held between the head of the Future Movement Prime Minister Saad Hariri and Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah before the resignation of Hariri’s government three years ago.
What has been witnessed since 2005 shows that the fissions in national politics have reached unprecedented levels to the extent that it threatens Lebanese pluralism. Herein lies the importance of holding the much-needed reconciliation conference, and soon. For what is the point of electing a consensus president if he cannot govern the country? Of forming a national unity government made up of warring components, who work according to a “patchwork” of a ministerial statement? And all the while tensions remain unaddressed between Lebanese people as they remember the horrors of the Civil War every day.
The source said that the ballots cast in the first round of voting should not go unnoticed, as what accompanied it reinforced the argument that Lebanese parties were still living with in fear and refused to accept the other, except when they behaved according to their conditions and interests.
He said he expected the traditional presidential candidates to make it to the end of the voting, even if they fully know the difficulties of actually making it to Baabda. He suspects members of Parliament will fail to elect a new president by May 25.
After his recent meetings with diplomats, the source said they would not interfere because some candidates were stubborn, either unaware of the difficulty of attaining the presidential post, or consider themselves as consensus candidates even though half of the MPs do not support them.
In a tone mixed with regret and sarcasm, he said: “If major international powers themselves do not agree with one another, and differ on several issues and files, what of their Lebanese allies?”
But he went on to elaborate that a regional solution would materialize soon, perhaps before September, the month that some analysts say an American-Iranian deal might be reached and supplemented by a Saudi-Iranian high-level meeting.
In this regard, diplomatic circles were advised not to bet on delaying presidential elections until September – so important regional developments could be settled.
The diplomatic circles believe that international decision-makers, which have proven to be the umbrella of political and security-related stability, in Lebanon would not allow a presidential vacuum, as it would give rise to several risks on several levels, and may also push for another parliamentary extension, which in turn could open the door to those looking to ignite chaos.
The diplomatic circles also warn of a crisis in the system, for with the absence of executive and legislative authorities, what is left but anarchy.