The constitutional deadline for electing a president in Lebanon is fast approaching, with little sign of a smooth resolution of the standoff. Anyone with large amounts of free time could spend each day listening, reading and watching the latest “news” about the election. In the end, little of what is being said really matters though, despite the waves of information, analysis, speculation, innuendo, speeches and rhetoric being generated.
It comes down to a simple formula: Four leading Maronite politicians – Michel Aoun, Samir Geagea, Sleiman Frangieh and Amine Gemayel – are considered too partisan to be elected, since they represent either the March 14 or March 8 camp.
If one peels away the public rhetoric and gets down to the stances of local, regional or international players in the presidential race, there is absolutely no serious indication that one of these four is a viable candidate. They, and Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai, need to face this fact and come up with a feasible candidate who can be elected.
Christian politicians and spiritual figures are fond of complaining that other leading sects are able to elect or select their own top figures, as if the Christians are being prevented from doing so. If the Maronite and wider Christian political community are unable this time to agree on a single candidate, they have only themselves to blame.
They must realize that none of the above amounts to a viable choice, and that it is time for plan B: It must be a serious plan B and not one that involves anointing one of the four as a “consensus” candidate and hoping no one notices.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on May 21, 2014, on page 7.