Trying Again: Power-Sharing in Post-Civil War Lebanon*

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The paper situates Lebanon in the context of consociationalist theorizing about politics in deeply divided societies. It suggests that none of the four prevailing models of Middle Eastern political systems (liberalism, patrimonial, nationalist-authoritarian, and corporatist) explicitly addresses vertical solidarist formations. Consociationalism attempts to do so, but Lebanon's experience with it has yielded negative as well as positive results. The paper reviews the contradictions of Lebanon's recent history, examining first “the golden age” and then the era of the civil war and the “militia republic” (1975–1990). It then analyzes the “Ta'if Accord” which provided the basis for a post-civil war reconstruction, and while it notes some institutional improvements (hence the designation of the agreement as “consociationalism-plus”) it expresses skepticism whether the provisions in Ta'if that call for the gradual elimination of political confessionalism will be implemented. The paper draws attention to the presence of external players on the Lebanese scene, especially Israel and Syria, and discusses the two post-civil war parliamentary elections in 1992 and 1996. It concludes that Lebanon's political recovery has been only partly successful.

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