After 10 debilitating months waiting for the formation of a new government in Lebanon, politicians Monday got down to the business of drafting a policy statement. So far, the rhetoric by the various sides is positive, but the public is in desperate need of results – on many occasions during the Cabinet formation process people heard similar, upbeat spin, which would then quickly evaporate.
The government of Prime Minister Tammam Salam has only a limited time in office, due to May’s presidential election, and thus only a limited amount of time to achieve results. Under such circumstances, the Cabinet is expected to focus on a few key priorities – security, the economic situation, processing aid to Syrian refugees and ensuring that the presidential election goes smoothly. Looking ahead to this year’s scheduled parliamentary elections, an agreement on a new election law would also contribute greatly to political stability.
This is why the policy statement debate should be short and to the point, just like the end product. Compromises were made by both sides to form the new government, and compromises should be expected if the policy statement is to be completed quickly, and implemented forcefully.
No one is prepared for another drawn-out political saga, after Salam was finally able to begin work at the Grand Serail. And no one is waiting to hear the usual, long laundry list of policy items put forward by a short-term executive branch team. People have no interest in hearing about wide-scale, ambitious plans – they want quick action, focused on the three or four most critically important national problems. And they need results.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on February 19, 2014, on page 7.