Lebanese of all sects have been living in a state of hypocrisy since the end of the Civil War, making pronouncements of love and unity among themselves that are belied by the reality of the situation of the country.
The constant discussion and need to reaffirm this purported harmony is only evidence of its absence from both politics and society in Lebanon.
Everybody in the country is aware of this hypocrisy, and yet it is denied in the public arena.
But every four years it becomes impossible to ignore, as the country’s politicians prepare for elections by utilizing sectarian discourse for their own ends.
The recurring need to re-evaluate the country’s electoral law is itself a testament to the lack of unity in the country. Electoral laws are constantly rewritten to fit the desires of whichever political faction is on top at the time, rather than the needs of all Lebanese.
The upcoming 2013 election is no exception. Quite the opposite.
Though it was to be expected that discussion over the law would stir controversy and disagreement, what was not anticipated was the tsunami of overtly sectarian pronouncements that have come out during the talks over the 2013 polls.
The state of the debate has proven that Lebanon is stuck in the past, and all of the supposed desire to end sectarianism is nothing more than empty talk.
Despite the boasts of their progressive and intellectual character, the Lebanese appear content with a political system that makes it impossible to move the country forward.
All the laws being considered, and the motivation behind their support or denunciation, reek of flagrant sectarianism. They are supported or opposed depending on the relative gains for each political leader.
None contribute to a national consensus, but rather to entrenching divisions, a recipe designed to increase the likelihood of future conflict, and to hold the country back from progress. Lebanon cannot be a modern country while its political system is stuck in the past.
Until now, there has been no electoral law that unites the Lebanese, regardless of who is doing the proposing and how many supporters it has. Such laws do not receive backing because they present what is best for the Lebanese, but because they satisfy the interests of certain political groups.
None of the proposals puts the interests and the future of the Lebanese at the forefront. The country is forced to watch as its politicians bicker among themselves about who will come out triumphant this time.
That is clear for the Lebanese to see. What is less clear is whether the country’s politicians will have the dignity and integrity to put their Lebanese identity first, and to seek a law that benefits Lebanon, and not merely their own sect.
If this does not happen the country will face a dark future, in which the problem of which electoral law to choose will be a minor one.