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What content does 'confessionalism form of government' convey in real life ? Theocratic pluralism ?

Reader comment on item: Qaddafi's Ignominious End
in response to reader comment: Disagree

Submitted by Ianus (Poland), Oct 25, 2011 at 02:50

BB King

wrote :

> Actually Lebanon follows confessionalism form of government. So the President has to be a Marionite Christian. Prime Minister a Sunni Muslim. Speaker of Parliament a Shia. Deputy Prime Minister and Deputy Speaker of Parliament Greek Orthodox. Furthermore, the seats in parliment have be divided equally between Christians and Muslims.<

This is again a decorous form designed to satisfy ambitions and vanity of the privileged few from different confessions and sects but , to my mind, it can never work in real life. It didn't work in Cyprus when the British withdrew and the government was more or less equally divided between the Turkish Moslems and the Greek Christians and ,frankly, I can't see how this artificial form can be effectively working in Lebanon either? What sort of laws can a confessional government pass and for whom?

The main attribute of the modern state is that it and only it has monopoly of violence on its own territory by dint of its laws and organs that enforce them. Whoever defies this monopoly faces immediate and efficient retaliation by the state willing and capable to restore the jeopardized monopoly of violence. No state can be called a modern state if it has not assured this monopoly of violence for itself. And no symmetry in representing different sects and confessions and their alliances in the government ,split and paralyzed by so many conflicting worldviews , value systems and interests , can change anything about this basic flaw and trap of Lebanon with its endemic violence, insecurity and paramilitary units defying the state as a matter of course. I stress again that Lebanon's forms of government on paper shouldn't be mistaken for its content. It is not a state in modern sense, so how can it be called a 'democracy' unless perhaps in the old Marxist sense of "clan and tribal democracy" ?

Different Christian sects may ally themselves with Sunnis against Shi'as or vice versa and still the party which doesn't like a given law can always rely - in defying the law and its enforcement - on its foreign sponsors from Syria or Iran or elsewhere. And what it leads to is a permanent state of impotence and insecurity because the central government is too weak and has no unified will to impose its decisions and laws on all. It is meaningless whether in this state the President is a Maronite Christian or a grand mufti or a future mahdi. The point is that this government looks more like a discussion club than a real government with its principal attribute. Confessionalism as a form of government might well be good in some theocracy. Democracy needs other principles and requires as its material foundation a modern state, i.e. a state that is capable of enforcing the laws it passes on its own territory.

Anyway, I'd be curious to learn how laws common to all in Lebanon are enforced in areas controlled by different religions and sects? If you know any examples from Lebanon where a Christian man can marry a Moslem woman without having to embrace Islam first or facing death, then I will be less prone to doubt. Also if you know any examples of law suits between a Christian and a Moslem where the Christian in Lebanon -a Moslem-majority country - is the winning party and falls no victim to Moslem militia attacks, revenge or other forms of private or semi-private violence (and not just because of strong and numerous Christian militia around him), I will be grateful and reconsider the hopeless - as I think- case of Lebanon as a candidate for democracy in one of the most undemocratic region of the world - the Middle East.

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