A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Monday, June 29, 2009

Sa‘d Hariri Gets the Nod

Unsurprisingly, on Saturday Lebanese President Michel Suleiman designated Sa‘d Hariri, son of the late Rafiq Hariri and head of the Future (Mustaqbal) Movement, as Prime Minister designate in Lebanon after 85 MPs out of 128 endorsed him. He had the support of his own Future Movement and its March 14 allies, plus the Shi‘ite Amal Movement, whose chief, Nabih Berri, was just reappointed Speaker with the support of Hariri. (Funny how that works.)

Now of course Hariri, who's spent much of his adult life running family business in Saudi Arabia and spent much time after his father's assassination in Europe, has to play the Lebanese Cabinet-building game. As I've said before, the goal here is consensus, something not always understood by Westerners used to a zero-sum two-party system. The Cabinet is likely to include some opposition figures and some Presidentially-backed figures in order to retain a one-third veto for the opposition, though in a technical sense March 14 has enough seats to govern by itself.


Dina Hadad said...

I find the whole process quite interesting. How Sa’d Alhariri will be able to establish his credibility away from the Saudi deal with Syria, I think this will be one of his main challenges in the near future. Especially that his experience in politics, in pragmatic terms and compared with his father’s weight within the Lebanese social context, has still a long way to go through. However, more interesting I think, is the debate over the reappointment of Berri. There is little doubt that shi’ite are to be looking for new options soon and so there will be wider margin for other candidate to prove credibility, in the near future. And hopefully then, celebrations wont garner more than one civilian!

David Mack said...

Hariri has accurately read the results of three elections. The US election indicated that there would be little support in Washington for continued confrontation with Syria. The Lebanese election indicated a still badly divided Lebanese electorate (with a popular vote majority for the opposition coalition). To protect the Lebanese system restored at Taif, a simple parliamentary majority is inadequate to support a cabinet or to pass legislation that will stick. Finally, the Iranian election gives Lebanese political leaders a splendid opportunity to show that they have the political maturity and tolerance of differences to govern effectively and with genuine legitimacy, unlike the ruling regime in Tehran. I could even add that it teaches a lesson to their Israeli neighbor that real parliamentary democracy is not just a matter of cobbling together a majority.