Earlier this year, Lebanon experienced a wave of speculation about how its presidential election would play out.
Many people were skeptical about the possibility of seeing the election take place on time, but few people were focused squarely on the negative repercussions, for average citizens and the country as a whole.
Now, Lebanon is experiencing a worrying case of déjà vu. The constitutionally mandated kickoff of the parliamentary polls process will begin in a few months’ time, and there is talk about the possibility of seeing another extension of Parliament’s mandate. Last August, when MPs extended their mandate by 17 months, there was hope the presidential election would go forward, and that lawmakers would overcome the obstacle to holding parliamentary polls, namely the failure to agree on a new election law.
The fact is that an election law is already in place, namely the modified version of the 1960 election law. Some of the politicians who are speaking out so forcefully against this election option are also saying, behind closed doors, that it would be fine to go ahead with the elections based on this legislation, because they now feel that they have something to gain.
In the end, politicians should level with the public and let people know exactly how much harm will come to Lebanon this time around, if the elections are shelved.
They can start by talking about the steady decline in Lebanon’s international reputation, and the fewer and fewer government actions and public policies that help people in their daily lives, as stalemate and drift become the order of the day. If they are especially energetic, politicians could also come up with a clear plan on how to limit the damage.
Perhaps, if MPs actually lost their seats upon failing to ensure timely elections, the public would have heard about a solution by now.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on July 07, 2014, on page 7.