THE CRISIS IN LEBANON:
A TEST OF CONSOCIATIONAL THEORY
ROBERT G. CHALOUHI
A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE COUNCIL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN
PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS
FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
Robert G. Chalouhi
I would like to express my thanks to the members
of my committee, especially to my adviser, Dr. Keith
Legg, to whom I am deeply indebted for his invaluable
assistance and guidance. This work is dedicated to my
parents, brother, sister and families for continued
encouragement and support and great confidence in me;
to my parents-in-law for their kindness and concern;
and especially to my wife Janie for her patient and
skillful typing of this manuscript and for her much-
needed energy and enthusiasm.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS . . . . . . . . .
LIST OF TABLES . . . . . . . . .
ABSTRACT . . . . . . . . . .
CHAPTER I: INTRODUCTION . . . . . .
Applicability of the Model . .
Problems of System Change . .
Assumption of Subcultural
Isolation and Uniformity. . .
The Consociational Model Applied
to Lebanon . . . . .
Notes . . . . . . .
. . 11
. . 12
. . 22
CHAPTER II: THE BEGINNINGS OF CONSOCIATIONALISM:
LEBANON IN HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE. . 25
The Phoenicians . . . . . .. 27
The Birth of Islam. . . . . .. 29
The Crusaders . . . . . ... 31
The Ottoman Empire. . . . . .. 33
Bashir II and the Role of External
Powers. ............... . 38
The Qaim Maqamiya . . . . . .. 41
Representation Institutionalized. ... . 46
The French Mandate, 1918-1943: The
Consolidation of Consociational
Principles. . . . . . . .. 52
Notes . . . . . . . . .. 63
CHAPTER III: THE OPERATION OF THE LEBANESE
POLITICAL SYSTEM. . . . . .. 72
Confessionalism and Proportionality:
Nominal Actors and Formal Rules .. ..
The National Pact . . . . . .
The Formal Institutions . . . . .
Political Clientelism: "Real" Actors
and Informal Rules . . . . .
The Politics of Preferment and
Patronage . . . . . . . .
Notes . . . . . . . . .
CHAPTER IV: CONSOCIATIONALISM PUT TO THE TEST:
LEBANON IN THE FIFTIES AND SIXTIES. . 98
Elite Disunity . . . . . . .. 99
The "Rosewater" Revolution of 1952 ... . 99
President Chamoun and the the Crisis
of 1958. ... . . . . . . . 104
Policy Causes and Consequences . . .. 109
The Crisis Proper: No Victor, No
Vanquished . . . . . . . .. 118
Shihab: 1958-1964 . . . . . .. 126
External and Internal Issues in the
1958 Crisis. . . . . . . . .. 130
Violation of Consociational Principles . 134
Notes. . . . . . . . . .. 140
CHAPTER V: BREAKDOWN OF CONSOCIATIONAL PRINCIPLES--
THE INTERNAL FACTOR. . . . . .. 146
Social Mobilization. . . . . . .. 148
Uneven Economic Development. . . . .. 151
The Principle of Proportionality . . .. 158
The Lebanese Economy . . . . . .. 163
Planning and the Governmental Role ... . 173
Notes. .. . . . . . . . . 183
CHAPTER VI: THE EXTERNAL FACTOR -- THE PALESTINIANS 187
Emergence of the Palestinian Resistance. .. 192
The 1969 Clashes . . . . . . .. 197
The Christian Response . . . . .. 202
Slide toward Civil War . . . . .. 205
Notes. . . . . . . . . ... 214
CHAPTER VII: THE 1975-76 CIVIL WAR. . . . .. 220
Notes. . . . . . . . . ... 231
CHAPTER VIII: CONCLUSION. . . . . . . .. 233
Revision of the Consociational Model . .. 242
Social Mobilization. .. . . . . 243
The Elite Cartel . . . . . .. 245
The Palestinian Dimension. . . . .. 249
Notes. . . . . . . . . .. 252
APPENDIX A: The Cairo Agreement . . . . .. 253
APPENDIX B: Composition of Opposing Forces in
Lebanese Civil War, 1975-76 . . .. 255
APPENDIX C: Lebanese Political Parties . . . .. 257
BIBLIOGRAPHY. . . . . . . . . ... .. . 263
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH .................. 275
LIST OF TABLES
I DISTRIBUTION OF THE MEMBERS OF THE CENTRAL
ADMINISTRATIVE COUNCIL BY SECT AND REGION . . 47
II CENSUS OF LEBANESE POPULATION TAKEN IN 1932. . 59
III NUMBER OF DEPUTIES WHO SERVED IN PARLIAMENTS
FIVE OR MORE TIMES: 1926-1972 . . . . .. 75
IV PARLIAMENTARY MEMBERSHIP OF PARTIES IN
LEBANON: 1951-1972 . . . . . . .. 78
V ESTIMATED POPULATION OF LEBANON IN 1956 . . 80
VI DISTRICTS AND SECTARIAN DISTRIBUTION SINCE 1960 84
VII DISTRIBUTION OF PARLIAMENTARY SEATS BY SECTS:
1947-1972 . . . . . . . . ... . 85
VIII SECTARIAN PATTERNS OF CABINET STRUCTURES:
1943-1961 . . . . . . . . ... . 86
IX DISTRIBUTION OF MEMBERS IN NEW PARLIAMENT . .129
X SEATS WON BY POLITICAL PARTIES IN 1960. ... .130
XI SELECTED INDICATORS OF SOCIAL MOBILIZATION
IN LEBANON. . . . . . . . . .. .149
XII SOCIAL MOBILIZATION BY REGION IN LEBANON. ... .150
XIII INCOME DISTRIBUTION, 1959 . . . . . .. 153
XIV INCOME DIFFERENCES BETWEEN SECTS. . . . .. .153
XV DISTRIBUTION OF SAMPLE OF BUSINESSMEN IN EACH
SECTOR BY CITIZENSHIP AND BY RELIGION . . .. .155
XVI EDUCATIONAL STATUS OF WIFE AND HUSBAND, FAMILY
INCOME, AND HUSBANDS'S OCCUPATION BY RELIGIOUS
GROUP: LEBANON, 1971 . . . . . .. 156
XVII DIFFERENCES IN FERTILITY RATE WITH REGARD TO
AFFILIATION: LEBANON, 1971 . . . . .. 160
XVIII NUMBER OF CHILDREN EVER BORN AND NUMBER OF
LIVING CHILDREN PER 1,000 MARRIED WOMEN BY
RELIGIOUS AFFILIATION AND WIFE'S AGE:
LEBANON, 1971 . . . . . . . .. 161
XIX ORIGINS OF NET NATIONAL PRODUCT, 1950-1966. . 166
XX TRADE AND FINANCE SECTORS AS % OF NET NATIONAL
PRODUCT 1954-1966 . . . . . . .. 167
XXI NATIONAL INCOME 1950 AND GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT
1972 BY SECTOR. . . . . . . . .. 169
XXII PERCENTAGE GROWTH OF SECTORS BETWEEN 1950
AND 1972. . . . . . . ... : .... 170
XXIII DISTRIBUTION OF THE ACTIVE LABOUR FORCE BY
SECTOR. . . . . . . . . ... . 175
XXV GENERAL BUDGET EXPENDITURES OF LEBANON,
1964-1967 . . . . . . . . ... 178
Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate Council
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of
the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy
THE CRISIS IN LEBANON:
A TEST OF CONSOCIATIONAL THEORY
Robert G. Chalouhi
Chairman: Keith R. Legg
Major Department: Political Science
This dissertation focuses on the Lebanese political
system, which prior to the destructive civil war of 1975-76,
represented one of the few examples of a culturally divided,
developing country that was able, for a period, to maintain
a stable system of representative democracy. To study the
nature of democracy in Lebanon, we used a framework provided
by Arend Lijphart and his elaboration of the concept of
Consociational democracy. This allowed us to examine to a
more accurate degree the relationship between the country's
political culture, social structure and political stability.
Consociational democracy is essentially rule by an "elite
cartel," where cooperation by the elite is able to circum-
vent the culturally and politically fragmented society and
thus maintain stability. Lebanon exhibits a complex
"balance of power" system among traditional, autonomous
groups in which religion represents the major line of
division, allied closely with strong regional, client and
family group affiliations or loyalties. Religion and
politics are inextricably intertwined. It is the purpose
of this study to discuss the operation of the Lebanese
political system under this broad theme and in the process
to suggest the underlying causes for the breakdown of the
The introduction takes a look at the extent of
applicability of Lebanon to the consociational system,
surveying the literature on the subject and highlighting
the shortcomings of the model. Chapter II examines the
beginnings of the consociational system by surveying
Lebanon in historical perspective. The next chapter looks
at the operation of consociational democracy in independent
Lebanon, which includes the formal institutions of the state
and the all-important but less evident operation of the
extensive patron-client network based on religious and
family rivalries. The internal and external factors
which weakened the structure in the fifties, with a
specific focus on the crisis of 1958, are the concern of the
next section. This conflict represented the beginning of
the end for a stable consociational system in Lebanon. The
next two chapters focus on the two major factors responsible
for the ultimate collapse of the system. First, the internal
cause involved a breakdown of elite unity, where
changes could not be peacefully made to redress Moslem
grievances involving preponderant Christian economic and
political power. The external factor is the role of the
Palestinians in Lebanon, who helped polarize the population
and add to the existing socio-economic cleavage. The final
chapter presents conclusions derived from the study.
The paper finds that the system could not cope, through
peaceful means, with this combination of internal and
external factors. The introduction of a new actor, wielding
great influence on the system, upset the confessional
balance. This was allied with a dissatisfied internal
element, linked to the process of a change in the nature of
the clientelist system.
The study concludes that consociational theory
proved inadequate in predicting and explaining the interaction
of internal and external pressures. More attention should
be focused on the conditions under which internal conflicts
are exacerbated by external factors, as happened in the
case of Lebanon. The measure of intensity of certain
cleavages should be given more attention, as well as to the
factors producing them. In this instance, the issue of
support for the Palestinians sharply divided the two communities.
The lesser privileged Moslem elements whom modernization
had not benefitted as much as it had the Christians were
able to use the Palestinian guerrillas in Lebanon as a tool
with which to attempt to overturn a system characterized by
a Christian dominance of the elite, plus a Christian
dominance of the resources of the state, which was largely
a result of the role played by the clientelist network in
The relationship between political culture (defined
as the attitudes, beliefs, values and political orientations
of a people) and social structure on the one hand and the
nature of the political system on the other is a highly
relevant one for political scientists. One of the more
interesting aspects of this subject is the relationship
between a heterogeneous political culture (fragmented along
racial, linguistic, regional or religious lines) and the
prospects for a viable, stable democratic system.
Many theorists assume that a democracy cannot operate
in a society characterized by strong subcultural divisions,
but rather that stability requires a homogeneous political
culture where cross-cutting cleavages exist to moderate
conflict.2 The continued co-existence of plural societies
and democracy in a number of states around the world
negates this generally-held contention. The degree of
stability varies from the democratic models exemplified by
the Anglo-American models to the more conflictual democratic
systems found in, say, Italy and France. Lebanon is one
country that prior to the 1975-76 civil was displayed an
interesting example of democracy in a plural society.
Gabriel Almond follows the traditionalist classification
of democratic states into the Anglo-American system
(a homogeneous, secular political and a differentiated role
structure) on the one hand, and the Continental European
(fragmented political culture with distinct subsystems of
roles) on the other. However, the universe of real
democratic systems was larger. Consequently a new
category, which included the Scandinavian and Low countries
(vaguely described as a combination of the first two) was
established. This category, which includes stable multi-
party systems, was not elaborated upon.3 In a later work
the Scandinavian, Low countries and Switzerland were
classified as "Stable democracies," again with little
elaboration.4 These political systems, which exhibit
mutually-reinforcing cleavages, received little attention,
bearing in mind that considerable diversity exists within
the category. One group within this category has been
termed "deviant cases" by Arend Lijphart who identified them
as "Consociational Democracies," defined as "democracies
with subcultural cleavages and with tendencies toward
immobilism and instability which are deliberately turned into
more stable systems by the leaders of the major subcultures."5
As examples, he cites Switzerland, the Benelux countries,
Lebanon and Colombia. The Consociational model, as Daalder
points out, increases our ability to better understand
different forms of democratic rule, adding that social
divisions need not imply that political conflicts will result.6
Lijphart's model for a stable, culturally and politically
fragmented democracy rests largely on his argument that
mutually-reinforcing cleavages do not necessarily produce
instability. Rather, he maintains that cross-cutting
cleavages are not a necessity as long as there is cooperation
at the elite level. The other conditions favorable to
consociational democracy, in addition to the distinct lines
of cleavage between subcultures, are a balance of power
among the subcultures, popular acceptance of coalition
government, the existence of external threats and moderate
nationalism. The latter is particularly important, as it
is contrary to the generally accepted belief that
development requires a transfer of loyalties from the local
to the national level. Milton Esman argues that there is
no need or desire to overcome local loyalties, arguing
"there is no reason to deny moral legitimacy to plural
In an elaboration of his model, derived mainly from his
work on the Netherlands, Lijphart argues that isolation
and self-containment of the groups can be conducive to
democracy. The system remains stable because the political
elites are consciously aware of the need to circumvent the
divided society by cooperation at the elite level. Rather
than compete with each other they must form an "elite
cartel" in order to successfully regulate the political
process. The emphasis is on the ability of the elite to
maintain stability. Consociational democracy, which is
basically rule by the elite cartel, requires:
(1) That the elites have the ability to
accommodate the divergent interests and
demands of the subcultures.
(2) This requires that they have the
ability to transcend cleavages and to
join in a common effort with the elites
of rival subcultures.
(3) This in turn depends on their
commitment to the maintenance of the
system and to the improvement of its
cohesion and stability.
(4) Finally, all of the above
requirements are based on the assumption
that the elites understand the perils
of political fragmentation. 0
The theory, then, proceeds from the contention that
culturally divided societies and stable democratic systems
are not necessarily incompatible; that democracy is not the
exclusive preserve of countries that exhibit homogeneous
political cultures. It is a rather different form of
democracy, differing from the classic examples of the Anglo-
American models. While both types essentially provide for
rule by consent of the governed and with accountability of
the governors, the consociational model has certain features
that distinguish it from the mainstream of western democratic
systems. In a consociational system, security must be
guaranteed for each subculture by allowing it a share in the
Proportional representation, and not majority rule,
becomes the norm, and coalition governments, in which
no one group can dominate become a necessity.1 Mutual
vetoes and concurrent majorities go hand in hand with
the arrangement whereby governmental power is curtailed
in order for the subgroups to autonomously handle their own
affairs. Though, ideologically, groups may remain
intransigent, political bargaining takes place in an
atmosphere of toleration, moderation, compromise and prag-
matism. Interests are carefully adjusted between groups
mainly through structured bargaining processes by the
leaders. Because of the strong strain of ideology,issues,
in order to be resolved to every group's satisfaction,
have to be depoliticized or discussed in less ideological,
and more technical, terms.
In sum, underlying the stability of such systems is a
fundamental consensus on the most basic aspects of the
structure, where the desire to preserve the system is found
among all subgroups. Boundaries exist within which the
groups may defend and promote their interests in a peaceful
Applicability of the Model
The assumption exists that democracies cannot operate
in culturally divided societies of the developing world.
How relevant is this Western-based consociational model for
non-Western countries? Communal attachments as religion,
region, kinship and language, what Geertz calls "primordial
ties"l2 are seen as impediments to the effective functioning
of a stable democracy, and the argument is made that states
have to achieve a degree of homogeneity before a democratic
system can work. Western states are not completely
homogeneous; however, many continental European democracies
exhibit fragmented political cultures.
While democracy along the Anglo-American model may not
be fully relevant for developing states, a specific form of
democracy--the consociational model--may be one method of
overcoming the deep cleavages characteristic of these systems.
Though the divisions are deeper and wider than those in
the Western democracies, the gaps can be bridged if the
countries satisfy certain conditions. Where communal or
segmental isolation exists, and little contact takes place
between the segments, agreement on the structure of the state
can be made by the segments' leaders.
Van Den Berghe cites several conditions necessary for
consociational democracy, which include basic agreements on
the essential values, agreement on the structure of the
government, acceptance of pluralism, that is, of cultural and
regional autonomy, where a monopoly over the means of violence
does not exist.13 The model will be suitable especially
where a balance of power exists between autonomous segments,
and where there has been some history of elite (coalescent)
Size also appears to be a favorable factor in the
functioning of consociational democracies. Frequent
interaction leads to accommodation and good will.14
Smallness also involves a fear of larger neighbors and this
supposedly leads to more elite solidarity. This is effective
where the danger is seen by all groups, and not by just one
or more segments. A plural society, then, will find the
consociational model the most viable in view of the deep
cleavages present in the society. Unity will be achieved and
the likelihood of violence decreased if the problem of
primordial loyalties is overcome.15
Kuper expounds on two models of democratic pluralism,
neither of which really apply to our study of Lebanon. The
"equilibrium" model he defines as "a dispersion of power
between groups which are bound together by cross-cutting
loyalties and by common values," presupposes a rather
homogeneous society.16 The "conflict" model states the
necessity for domination of society by a minority group.17
In answer to the question of whether of how applicable the
consociational model, developed for the small West European
democracies, is for an understanding of the prospects for
stable democracy in culturally divided, developing countries,
we may quote Lijphart:
For many of the plural societies of the
non-Western world. . the realistic
choice is not between the British
normative model of democracy and the
consociational model, but between
consociational democracy and no democracy
The consociational model, in short, may be applicable
to different countries in various degrees, and it is our
purpose to explain Lebanon's system and its demise with the
aid of consociational theory and in the process to identify
extra variables that may serve to strengthen the theory's
explanatory potential and applicability, helping to over-
come some of its limitations. One important aspect of this
model which we must address ourselves to is the problem of
system change. How well does this model accommodate change?
Problems of System Change
One of the drawbacks of the model is the detrimental
effects brought about by modernization, or more specifically
social mobilization. Competition for scarce resources leads
to the emergence of new values. Different rates of
mobilization, moreover, engender conflict by making
cleavages more reinforcing. Melson and Wolpe show that
modernization in Nigeria led to more conflicts plus the
emergence of new groups. The groups' communal identity
becomes the basis for their advancement. They "perceive
their competitive world through a communal prism."9
Conflict arises when certain groups are not able to acquire
desired values as wealth, power and status. As Dew puts it,
" . with the system's capabilities perceived as static,
the increased satisfaction of one group implies an increased
dissatisfaction for the other groups) with a heightened
sense of relative deprivation and an increased prospect
for political conflict."20
Social mobilization leads to a greater awareness of
communal identity, generating conflict over distribution
of resources, which can lead then to an uneven communal
distribution of the society's wealth. Where opportunities
exist for advancing or sharing in values without encroaching
on the rewards of another group, the likelihood of conflict
will be decreased. Where one group does not advance as
rapidly as another, a sense of deprivation sets in. In
brief, different rates of mobilization lead to a more
apparent division among the communities, a growing of
socio-political cleavages which can lead to conflict.
Because of the question of wealth and redistribution, it
becomes a conflict of class. Where communal and class
cleavages coincide, the changes for conflict and polarization
increase. The reasons for the differences, Melson and Wolpe
point out, include the nature of Western contact, environ-
mental opportunities, and variations in cultural dispositions.21
The ability to successfully overcome these problems
of modernization is one major weakness of this democratic
model. The attitude of the elite is important in this regard.
Where elites do not have a common perception of
the distribution of rewards in a society, conflict among
members of the elite may set in. Demands for a change in the
methods of allocation arise after the resources of groups and
their leaders change over time, again due to political
or economic changes. But, as Esman points out, "the
conflict management perspective has an inevitable bias
toward conservatism and system maintenance, toward the orderly
and peaceful continuity of a conflict-ridden or violence-
prone political system."22 A serious problem with
structured elite predominance is its conservative bias, "where
elite predominance tends to freeze the social status quo
and to limit policy options for economic growth,distribution
and participation."23 Priority is given to stability and
peaceful relations between the society's communities.
Agreement on objectives and values of the system
becomes difficult. Apter argues that what he calls a
"consociation" is subject to "immobilism because of
the need to find agreement on common action before action
itself is possible. Hence, it is given to crisis, fission
and recombination as part of its natural history."24 It
is a static system that does not easily accommodate change.
The modernization process, it appears, leads to a
rejection of regulatory practices by non-elites, or as
Nordlinger contends . the continuing impact of modernization
upon the non-elite detracts from the possibility of
regulatory outcomes."25 The consociational system is,
therefore, of a rather static character. Lorwin argues
that "segmented pluralism" is breaking down in the Nether-
lands because of youth unhappiness with the ideological
blocs and with the compromises of the system.26 Dutter
takes issue with this contention, maintaining that
consociational democracy in the Netherlands is not changing
to a homogeneous political culture, as Lijphart asserts,
and he further questions whether the growth of secular
blocs will continue.27
Assumption of Subcultural Isolation and Uniformity
In his discussion of the relation between the
communities and the elite, Lijphart essentially neglects
the possibility of linkage between the two, as was the
case in Lebanon. Though the communities are more or less
isolated or segmented, links between members of the elites
and members of the different communities existed through the
Besides having contacts with each other, the members
of the ruling elite have contact with regional leaders or
notables. These coalitions may be with members of other
religions, and not necessarily with members of the same
community. The President and the other members of the
elite, in short, serve their political interests and those
of their clients by cooperating with notables from other
communities. This creates an arena where different sub-
elite coalitions are important.
While legitimacy of the elite in the Netherlands is
legal-rational, in Lebanon it is more of a quid pro quo,
traditional legitimacy. Problems of recruitment are also
related to the nature, and legitimacy, of the elite.
In Lebanon bargaining takes place among notables,with the
individual's name and family figuring importantly. A
member of the ruling elite is usually able to recruit a
member of his family, or even allies of his region, into
the elite structure.
In sum, the picture is not one of complete isolation
of the elite from the blocs. Rather, contacts are main-
tained between members of the elite, plus they with
leaders of the different communities. The continual
bargaining that takes place between the elites and the
"sub-elites" is a central aspect of Lebanese politics.
Our purpose at this stage is to establish first whether
Lebanon falls into Almond's third category, or more
specifically, into Lijphart's consociational model.
The Consociational Model applied to Lebanon
Lebanon is a small country (4,000 square miles,
3 million people) which, since independence in 1943,
exhibited a stable formula of pluralism and democracy.
Under Ottoman rule, an autonomous Lebanese province was
administered along confessional lines, with Christians
constituting the majority of the inhabitants. Following
World War I, Lebanon became a French Mandate. The French
added more areas, forming a Greater Lebanon and in the
process increasing the Moslem population. The French
emphasized the traditional practice of a system based on
proportional representation based on religious and regional
divisions. In essence, the country exhibits a complex
balance of power system among traditional autonomous
groups in which religion represents the major line of
division, allied closely with strong regional, client
and family group affiliations or loyalties. Religion and
politics are inextricably intertwined.
Did Lebanon ever fit the Consociational model?
Lijphart lists what he calls the "rules of the game"
necessary for accommodation between the subcultures28
and it will be our task to apply these propositions to
Lebanon as it existed before the crisis, note any deviations
which will allow us to suggest modifications and short-
comings of the model. A comparison with consociationalism
in the Netherlands will hopefully highlight the operation
of the model in Lebanon and allow us to discuss the
deviations, and thus modifications of the model.
(1) The Business of Politics: Politics should be seen as a
type of business (rather than a type of game) in which the
elite are oriented toward the maintaining of stability.
Lijphart notes this is in keeping with the Netherlands'
tradition as a merchant state, which, incidentally, applies
also to Lebanon. While Lebanon sustained many minor crises
(37 governments in the first twenty years of independence)
major conflicts have been avoided due to the skillful
bargaining procedures and practices of the country's
politicians. There was a deliberate effort by the elite
to stabilize the system as it was apparent that the
alternative to this arrangement was intergroup strife.
No agreements could be made unless all groups approved
(mutual vote), with decisions often being made by granting
concessions to dissatisfied groups. In this way the
distribution of "values" could be allocated on an
objective basis. As we shall see in more detail later,
the Lebanese government, until the sixties, interfered
very little in the economy, until increased modernization29
led to demands for an increased governmental role. Still,
Lebanon's pluralistic society did not prove to be an
obstacle to development. Due largely to the work-oriented
nature of the elite, the country was able to make great
strides in economic development, giving Lebanon one of the
highest per capital rates in the Middle East.
(2) The Agreement to Disagree: This implies respect and
toleration for ideological and political differences.
Major decisions had to be compromises, with concessions being
made to opposing blocs. The concept of concurrent majority,
rather than majority rule, was practiced. This rule can
only be applied to issues that are not pressing, but when
issues of importance cannot be resolved they are usually
"frozen," as was Dutch disagreement over the Colonial
question in 1951. In Lebanon, the second decade of
independence saw the emergence of several issues upon which
the elites could not agree, and these in essence were left
unresolved. The divisive issues included development and
fortification of the South, strengthening of the army,
social justice and the Palestinian question.
(3) Summit Diplomacy: The politics of accommodation
presuppose rule by the elite. The more pressing and crucial
an issue, the more likely it is that it will be resolved
at the highest level. This entails elite cooperation
on the fundamentals of domestic and foreign policy.
The Dutch "compromise" of 1917 is a good example, where the
Socialists obtained their demand for universal suffrage,
while the Catholics and Protestants received state aid
for education,while the Liberals were satisfied by the
introduction of proportional representation. The Lebanese
elite was able to keep conflict within manageable proportions,
able to solve the Presidential crisis of 1952, but divided
in 1958. The latter two cases highlight the role of the
external factor and as we shall see in more detail politics
in Lebanon could not be viewed in isolation from events
outside its borders. Because of the Christian political
orientation toward the West and the Moslems toward the Arab
world, issues of Middle East politics have tended to divide
the populace. Internally, increased modernization led to
conflict, and lessened the elite's ability to solve emerging
(4) Depoliticization: Sensitive issues are neutralized by
presenting them to the blocs in a non-political form,
helping in the process to justify compromises made. One
method used in depoliticization is the use of legal and
constitutional principles. The principle was not fully
effective in Lebanon. Issues concerned with the Arab-
Israeli conflict were not so easily depoliticized; nor
was the question of social justice or distribution of
resources. This latter issue became increasingly imbued
with political overtones and consequently became a bone
of contention between the two communities. That is,
as social mobilization proceeded, it became increasingly
difficult to keep issues depoliticized.
(5) Secrecy: In order to be able to put aside religious and
ideological differences and successfully arrive at
compromises, and in general to practice pragmatism, bloc
leaders have to practice accommodation in secret,away from
the scrutiny of the public. This applies well in Lebanon
where, after heated elections in which popular interest is
high, bargaining takes place in secret. Approval by the
population of government by the elite cartel favors a
consociational democracy, and this has been the case in
Lebanon. Compromises by the elites are largely dependent
on the allegiance and support of the non-elites.
(6) The Government's Right to Govern: The government
(or Cabinet) has to be allowed a large degree of independence,
in view of the fact that it alone has the right to govern.
Lebanon's institutional structure allows the Cabinet the
preeminent role in policy-making. A popularly-elected
Parliament elects a President who names a Prime Minister
who then forms a Cabinet which has to win Parliament's
vote of confidence. The President, who is himself head of
a family, client and regional group, is often the balancer
in the balance of power. The government for the most
part was the medium whereby the competing interests of the
various groups could be adjusted. Membership in the
Cabinet was a means of preserving a group's security and
interests. Parliament as such was not a check on the
Cabinet, but rather a forum where issues and facts could be
aired and discussed after the Cabinet had made the decisions.
(7) Proportionality: Sectarian considerations have been
the basis for Lebanon's political life in that power is
distributed among the country's religious sects, resulting in
a system where diverse interests are tolerated and accommodated.
The unique form of confessionalism produced a democratic
state in which all traditional groups were allowed a share
in governing the country. This opportunity for participation
by all groups imparted legitimacy to the institutions of
The system is based on the National Pact of 1943
which in effect recognized the division of the country into
religious communities. The Pact allocated administrative
posts to the various communities in proportion to their
numerical strength. A census taken in 1932 revealed the
Christians to be in a slight majority and thus were given
six seats in Parliament for every five Moslem seats. No
one sect constituted more than 30% of the population. In
this sense it was similar to the classic balance of power
system in which no one participant could gain hegemony
On the Christian side, the Maronite Catholics comprised
29% of the population, and being the largest single sect,
were allowed the top executive post, the Presidency. Other
Christian groups include the Greek-Orthodox (9%), Greek-
Catholic (6%), and smaller Christian denominations (7%).
On the Moslem side the Sunni represented 22% of the population
and accordingly were given the second position, the
Premiership. The other Moslem group, and third overall
largest, the Shiites (20%) were given the post of Speaker
of the House. The Druze (an off-shoot of the Moslems)
represented the remaining 7%.
We return, then, to the question of how applicable the
model is for a study of Lebanon. Did Lebanon ever fit the
model? Certainly, prior to the crisis of 1958 the model,
by and large, did apply to Lebanon. Lebanese consociationalism
gradually began to weaken in the sixties and seventies,
leading to the collapse of the Lebanese political system in
1975-76. The reasons for the failure of the consociational
model in Lebanon are a central concern of this paper and will
be discussed fully in subsequent chpaters. Essentially,
socio-economic modernization in Lebanon had resulted in
a greater share of wealth accruing to the Christians of
Lebanon, by and large, while the poorer elements of the
population were for the most part Moslems. In addition,
population changes had, it was widely believed, resulted in
the Moslems now constituting a majority and in the process
demands were made for a change in the apportionment of
political power, which since 1943 was based on a fixed ratio
favoring the Christians.
Demands for a reorganization of Lebanon's political
and economic structure were resisted by the more privileged
Christian elements. Added to this "internal" cause of the
breakdown was the "external" factor,namely the role of the
Palestinian guerrillas. The presence of the Palestinians in
Lebanon, and more specifically the question of their freedom
of action, divided the population with the conservative
Christian elements staunchly opposing their presence in
Lebanon. The Palestinians fought alongside the Moslems in
order to safeguard their position in Lebanon, while the
Moslems fought for a change in Lebanon's political and
economic structure. The Christians fought to maintain the
privileges they had attained in Lebanon and to weaken,
destroy, or bring the Palestinian movement under control,thus
removing what they perceived as a threat to Lebanon.
This paper, then, will be concerned with an under-
standing of how Lebanon's experiment in consociational
democracy failed, with a violent breakdown of the political
system. The paper will begin with a historical overview
of the country focusing specifically on the evolution or
development of the consociational system. We will then
move to a focus on the operation of consociational principles
in Lebanon, showing the relation of these principles to
religion, the family and more importantly to the patron-
client network that has historically been a part of
Lebanese politics. Chapter III deals with the crisis of
1958, when the first cracks in the consociational structure
began to appear. This section will include a survey of
the interplay of internal and external factors and a
discussion of the deviation from consociational principles.
The next two chapters take a closer look at the basic causes
for the collapse. The first discusses the internal problems--
which in essence is a discussion of the violation of the
principles of consociationalism. We will attempt to
indicate whether and to what extent changes have arisen
between the two communities, which led to a call for a
change in the "rules of the game". Then a look at the
external cause will be in order. This entails a tracing
of the rise of the Palestinians as a factor in domestic
politics, and their influence on the system will be shown.
Since the first mainfestation of hostility between
the state and the Palestinians erupted in 1969, the focus
will be on this confrontation. The following section
focuses on the 1975-76 civil war itself while, finally, the
last chapter will be an analytical summary of the breakdown of
the Lebanese system in relation to the consociational
model. Hopefully, this section will tie together the
main themes of the paper and concentrate on the theoretical
aspects of the discussion.
1. The term "stability" in this context refers to a situation
resulting from a system's ability to continually solve
new, emerging problems and to respond effectively to
demands made upon it by groups of the society. Where
channels exist for the articulation of demands and where
conflict is successfully resolved the polity will
maintain stability. "Legitimacy", an important under-
pinning of stability, implies the acceptance of the
political structure and its institutions by all groups.
A successful regulation of political conflict is a plus
for a state's political "performance". The term
"democracy" refers to the opportunity for representation
and participation in decision-making by all groups,
which includes political competition, rule by consent
of the governed and the assurance of basic civil liberties
2. Where social cleavages coincide (mutually-reinforcing)
divisions among the population are deep and likely to
produce conflict, while overlapping lines of social
cleavage (cross-cutting) produce numerous affiliations
by an individual and moderation is likely to result,
with little change of polarization and thus conflict.
3. Gabriel Almond,"Comparative Political System," Journal
of Politics (August, 1956), pp. 392-394. A secular
political culture is"rational-calculating,bargaining
and experimental.. ."The role structure is organized,
bureaucratized with stability in the function of the
roles and a dispersion of power throughout the system.
4. Gabriel Almond,"Political Systems and Political Change,"
American Behavioral Scientist (June, 1963), p. 10.
5. Arend Lijphart, "Typologies of Democratic Systems,"
Comparitive Political Studies (April, 1968), p. 20.
6. Hans Daalder, "The Consociational Democracy Theme,"
World Politics (July, 1974), p. 609.
7. Lijphart, op. cit., p. 29.
8. Milton Esman, "The Management of Communal Conflict,"
Public Policy (Winter, 1973), p. 77. The concept of
"pluralism" as used here has more a "sociological"
basis than a "political" one. It is concerned mainly
with the relationship between social structure and
political behavior where different power centers
exist--different elites--as a result of subcultural
divisions in a stable democracy. Pluralism is defined
by Kuper as "societies characterized by certain conditions
of cultural diversity and social cleavage in whatever
way these conditions of social and cultural pluralism
arise from the contact of different peoples and
cultures within a single society." Leo Kuper,
"Plural Societies: Perspectives and Problems," in
Leo Kuper and M.G. Smith, eds., Pluralism in Africa,
(Berkeley: University of California Press, 1969), p. 7.
9. Arend Lijphart, The Politics of Accomodation (Berkeley:
University of California, 1968).
10. Arend Lijphart, "Consociational Democracy," World
Politics (January, 1969), p. 216. Also on elites
see Eric Nordlinger, Conflict Regulation in Divided
Countries (Cambridge: Center for International Affairs,
1972), pp. 54-72.
11. Jurg Steinger argues that proportionality results in
the citizens lacking the means to articulate their
dissatisfaction, and this lowers the "learning
capacity of the system" in that there is little
communication between elites and citizens. "Principles
of Majority and Proportionality," British Journal of
Political Science (January, 1971), p. 68.
12. Clifford Geertz, "The Integrative Revolution: New States,"
in Clifford Geetz, ed., Old Societies and New States
(New York: Free Press, 1963),p. 109.
13. Pierre Van Den Berghe, "Pluralism and the Polity:
A Theoretical Explanation," in Kuper, op. cit.,
14. Jurg Steiner, op. cit., p. 65.
15. Eric Nordlinger, op. cit., pp. 36-39.
16. Kuper, op. cit., p. 3.
17. Ibid., p. 12.
18. Arend Lijphart, Democracy in Plural Societies, (New Haven:
Yale University Press, 1977), p. 238.
19. Robert Melson and Howard Wolpe, "Modernization and the
Politics of Communalism: A Theoretical Perspective,"
American Political Science Review (December, 1970),
20. Edward Dew, "Testing Elite Perceptions of Deprivation
and Satisfaction in a Culturally Plural Society,"
Comparative Politics (January, 1971), p. 273.
21. Melson and Wolpe, op. cit., p. 1115.
22. Milton Esman, "The Management of Communal Conflict,"
Public Policy (Winter, 1973), p. 50.
23. Ibid., p. 74.
24. David Apter, The Political Kingdom in Uganda: A Study
in Bureaucratic Nationalism (Princeton: Princeton
University Press, 1961), p. 24.
25. Nordlinger, op. cit., p. 112.
26. Val Lorwin, "Segmented Pluralism," Comparative Politics
(January, 1971), p. 159.
27. Lee Dutter, "The Netherlands as a Plural Society,"
Comparative Political Studies (January, 1978),
28. Lijphart, Politics of Accommodation,op. cit., pp. 122-138.
29. Modernization in this case refers more to socio-economic
development than political development. As we shall see
later Lebanon has developed while maintaining its
traditional patterns of life. But Lebanon does not
rank highly on indicators of political development,
whose aspects include "a high level of institutionalized
mass participation, typically through the election
process and the party system, high government administrative
capabilities, indicative of a response to demands
engendered by social mobilization, and flexible
complex, autonomous and coherent political institutions."
The indicators of political development include:
voting participation (non-communist secular party vote),
central government expenditures as percentage of GNP,
executive stability index, deaths from domestic group
violence per million inhabitants, and the Cutright
political development index. In sum, socio-economic
modernization is ahead of political development in
Lebanon. See Michael Hudson, "A Case of Political
Underdevelopment," Journal of Politics (November, 1967),
pp. 827-832. Also Samuel Huntington, "Political
Development and Political Decay," World Politics
(April, 1965), pp. 386-405.
THE BEGINNINGS OF CONSOCIATIONALISM:
LEBANON IN HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE
The origins of the problems that have plagued modern
day Lebanon are deeply embedded in the country's history. An
appreciation and a clearer understanding of these problems
can be made by reference to the political, economic and social
forces which have shaped the structure and form of twentieth
century Lebanon, characterized by a unique brand of confess-
ionalism.1 Moreover, a study of the evolution of the country's
confessional system will enable us to focus more clearly on
the background to the emergence of a consociational democracy
in Lebanon, as well the nature and extent of conflict
exhibited by the system. As we shall see, the birth of
confessionalism was due to both internal and external factors,
perhaps more so to the latter, in view of the fact that other
countries had such a profound influence on the development
of the country.
Lebanon has had a highly complex history which is today
reflected in its widely diverse religious and social mosaic.
The number and variety of conquerors that have passed through
Lebanon and which have left their own distinct imprints and
influences have helped mold a country which today has not
differed significantly in terms of both its strategic and
commercial importance. Indeed, twentieth century Lebanon
performed functions which it did throughout history, acting as
an East-West bridge, a center for trade, and an arena in which
rivalries of numerous nations were contested. Many authors
have echoed this theme in their works, and the following by
a noted Lebanese historian perhaps best illustrates this idea:
Clearly Lebanon can vie with any other
land of comparable size not only in the
value of events enacted on its stage but
in their meaningfulness in terms of world
values and in importance. It is one of
those lands that could be described as
microscopic in size but macroscopic in
Lebanon's geography has played an integral part in
shaping its history. Situated on the Eastern Mediterranean,
it extends about 130 miles along the coast, and averages 35
miles in width. Its area of 4000 square miles thus makes it
smaller than the state of Connecticut. The coastal strip
merges into a mountain range which is separated by another,
parallel, range (the anti-Lebanon range) by the fertile
Bekaa valley. It is the snow-covered mountain peaks that give
Lebanon its name.
Because of this rough mountainous terrain, Lebanon was
never completely controlled by an invading army, but rather
managed, throughout its history, to maintain its own distinct
characteristics and identity: "They learnt from their
conquerors trades and industries; they adopted some of their
myths; they certainly acquired a few of their administrative
measures, but generally speaking they kept their own
personality."3 The social make-up and political nature of
twentieth century Lebanon were determined largely by the role
played by Mount Lebanon4 or the "Mountain". This area
became a place of refuge for religious minorities, and it is
perhaps this factor more than any other that gave Lebanon its
unique characteristics, allowing for the creation later of
a most unusual type of consociational democracy. This section
of the paper will deal with a survey of historical Lebanon,
focusing on the forces that helped shape Lebanon's political
system as it emerged in the twentieth century. This brief
account will include Lebanon's early history, proceed
through the Islamic and Ottoman periods, and end in the period
of the French Mandate, which culminated in independence for
Lebanon in 1943.
Around 4000 B.C. a group of Semitic tribes moved into
the Levant5 from the Persian Gulf area. This people,
subsequently known as Canaanites, settled with a group of
Aegeans who were driven from Greece by invaders around the
year 3000 B.C.6 The race of Phoenicians which emerged lived
in thickly wooded areas and excelled in trade, art, metallurgy
and textile industries, and in navigation.
Taking advantage of their strategic location, and since the
mountains posed an obstacle to effective opportunities in the
East, the Phoenicians proved to be intelligent traders and
found much prosperity in these endeavors. By the ninth
century they had established a flourishing empire in the
Mediterranean area, setting up colonies of which the most
famous was Carthage. The Phoenician cities, which collectively
never consisted of more than a loose organization of city-
states, traded with the Pharoahs of Egypt, selling them
cedarwood, used to build their boats and temples, plus
wine, olive oil and white gum, used for the Egyptian practice
of mummification. Byblos (later Jubeil) established itself
as the leading city in terms of trade and overall influence.
The Phoenicians' invention of the alphabet boosted their
trading opportunities by improving communications.7
The Phoenicians' activities, however, were interrupted
by frequent invasions. Following several decades of Hyksos
rule, the Eighteenth Dynasty under the Amenhoteps8 ruled
the area until it was conquered by the Hittites, who, after
several military campaigns with the Egyptians, finally
allowed Ramses to retain control over the Phoenician coast.
It was in the following 400 years (1279-879) that Phoenicia
established its colonies and became prosperous. Assyrian
rule (875-608) was followed by the Babylonians (608-536)
whole ruled under Nebuchadnezzar until the Persians managed to
attain a firm grip on the area (531-333).10
Unlike the previous periods, during which numerous revolts
took place, relations between the Persians and Phoenicians
were cordial, even though the area for the first time came under
a highly centralized administration. The Greco-Roman period
was ushered in when Alexander the Great defeated the Persians
at the Battle of Issus in 333B.C. The Phoenicians were
receptive to Greek civilization and soon the Greek language
became widely spoken.
Upon Alexander's death internal squabbling among his
senior generals led to a division of the area and the Seleucids
moved in and ruled the area for over a century. It was under
Roman rule, which began in 64 B.C. under Pompey, that
Phoenicia attained new fame. Berytus (Beirut) achieved great
intellectual heights, becoming a noted center of learning
for the Roman empire and boasting the prestigious Roman
School of Law, while IIeliopolis (Baalbek) also stood out with
its fine temples.11
In the beginning of the fourth century Christianity became
the recognized religion of the Levant. Toward the end of
this century the Roman empire split up into a Roman Western
part and a Byzantine Eastern part, with Constantinople as its
capital.12 The empire was further weakened by both
internal dissensions and war with the Persians, laying it
open to attack by new invaders from the Arabian Peninsula,
carrying with them new religious teachings which they were
intent on spreading to the entire area.
The Birth of Islam
Preaching a religious war (Jihad) and . sanctified by
the consciousness that they were the chosen vehicles of a new
and final divine revelation,"3 the Arab invaders encountered
and defeated the Byzantine armies at the Battle of Yarmuk
in 636. Islam spread quickly, reaching Spain and Morocco
in the West and central Asia in the East. The reasons were
varied. Besides the lack of a clear demarcation line between
it and the Monotheistic religions, "the few and precise
basic demands of Islam, the simplicity of the cult, and the
prestige attaching to it, would attract numerous converts.
Furthermore, adherence to Islam promised relief in taxation
and entry into the governing elite."14
Lebanon came under the rule of the Damascus-centered
Ummayad Dynasty from 660 to 750, and from 750-1258 it lived
under the repressive rule of the Baghdad-based Abbasid
Dynasty. Arabic became the predominant language, Islam the
predominant religion. It was in this period that the
Lebanese mountains provided a sanctuary for many fleeing
Christians. From this time on Lebanon became increasingly
recognized as a place of refuge for different minority groups
of the area, and in the process sowing the seeds of the /
present day confessional state. Opposition to the new rule
came not only from the Christians, but from other groups who
for one reason or another found it in their interests to resist
incorporation into the Islamic empire. Religious minorities
as the Christians and the Jews were ruled as Millets, distinct
communities that were subject to a different tax system, and
who were excluded from military service. In addition they were
not to bear arms, intermarry with Moslems, but could continue
to live under their own customs and retain freedom of worship.16
The main religious communities to settle in the Mountain
in this period were the Maronites17 and the Druze,18 who were
labelled as heretics by the new rulers. Though Islam and the
Arabic language moved at a slow pace into the Mountain, by
the ninth and tenth centuries, Arab tribes started settling
near Beirut, in the the process chipping away at Lebanon's
Christian character. Despite this Arab influence Aramaic,
and a derivative Syriac, continued to be spoken in the Maronite
areas until about the seventeenth century.
In the tenth and early eleventh centuries, numerous
emirates and principalities began to appear, the relations
between which were based on mutual distrust and suspicion.9
This was to facilitate the military campaigns of the Crusaders
in the eleventh century.
In 1095 Pope Urban II initiated the first of eight
European expeditions aimed at wresting the Holy Land from the
Moslems.20 By 1124 most of Lebanon was in Crusader hands.
They had established feudal states in Tripoli, Edessa, Antioch
and a central one in Jerusalem; most of the Crusader rulers
were French. The initial successes of the Crusaders were
dampened by internal rivalries, which led to a division of
Lebanon into different areas making it easier for Moslem armies
to regain some lost land. More Crusader campaigns accomplished
little. With Saladin leading the Moslem armies to further
victories over the Crusaders, Europe sent a new Crusade under
Frederick Barbarossa, Philip Augustus and Richard I, Coeur
de Lion. This campaign managed to win control of the coast,
with the Moslems controlling the interior. The Islamic empire
lost its unity following Saladin's death, and the Europeans
seized the opportunity to win back lands lost to the Arab
leader, only to finally be driven out of the area by the
Mamluks of Egypt, led by Baybars. The last Crusader
fortress fell in 1291.22
The Crusader period signalled the beginning of a long
friendship between France and the Maronites of Lebanon. The
Maronites had welcomed the Crusaders and had cooperated fully
with them in their military campaigns. While the Maronites
proved to be eager recipients of Western ideas, similarly
France's interest in the area and its Catholic inhabitants
grew and was to continue through the next several centuries.
The Mamluk period (1282-1516), described as "a time of
decay and unrest,"23 was characterized partly by several
revolts by Maronites, Druze and Shiites,4 which were put down
with much brutality. The Mamluks harbored much ill-feeling
toward the Maronites, dating from the Crusader conquests, and
this they quickly demonstrated by attacking and decimating
Maronite towns and villages, killing thousands and forcing
thousands more to flee.25 The Druze also suffered considerably
under the Mamluks, and together with the Maronites sought
refuge in the mountains of Lebanon, where they settled with
their co-religionists. There the two communities lived
peacefully side by side, and through their deft manuverings,
managed to obtain concessions concerning autonomous rule.
Despite the repressive nature of Mamluk rule, and the
accompanying wars, famine and plagues, contacts were maintained
between the area and Europe. Trade and commercial ties were
established, and Lebanon especially experienced increasing
prosperity plus an increasing intellectual activity. This
ended with the appearance of the Ottoman Turks, who established
an empire which was to last approximately 400 years, from
1516 until the First World War.
The Ottoman Empire
Having consolidated his power in the area, Ottoman Sultan
Selim I chose to leave the notables of Lebanon in power, both
Christian and Moslem, demanding only token payments in return.
He designated certain areas were to be administered by
notable Lebanese families whose duties included collection of
taxes, providing soldiers and acting as arbitrators in dis-
putes. This practice continued after him, and until the
middle of the eighteenth century, the Ottomans ruled
Lebanon through two prominent families, the Maans and the
Shihabs. The autonomy of the local leaders, the system of
lordship and the population were three elements of Lebanese
society that were present at the beginning of Ottoman rule.26
The Maans, Druze by faith, were led first by Fakhr Al
Din I followed by the more colorful and controversial
Fakhr Al Din II, who ruled from 1585 to 1635. He ended the
feuds that had gone on under his predecessor and sought to
integrate the whole of Lebanon, plus parts of Palestine,27
into a more independent area, under his leadership. Very
flexible on religious matters, he established close cooperation
between the Druze and the Maronites.28 In addition he set about
economically developing the country, making significant
strides in agriculture and trade.
Fakhr Al Din's ambition for total autonomy led him to
enter into agreements with the Duke of Tuscany, directed
against the Ottomans. He fled to Tuscany, however, upon
hearing the Ottomans were intent on sending an army against
him. Five years later, in 1618, he received amnesty from
the Ottoman government and returned to Lebanon.29 No sooner
had he returned, however, than he set about rebuilding his
army, this time into a more efficient, 40,000 man force,
which proceeded to defeat the Ottoman troops sent against
him. Rather than seek revenge, the Sultan of Constantinople,
involved in fighting in Persia and Anatolia at the time,
accepted the fait accompli and conferred upon Fakhr Al Din
the title of Sultan of the Continent.3
Fakhr Al Din now sought closer ties with Italy,
establishing diplomatic relations with the Dukes of Tuscany
and Florence, and brought over Italian engineers and agri-
culturists to help further develop the country. These
measures were short-lived however, as the new Sultan Murad IV
moved against him in a final attempt to end the complete
autonomy of Lebanon under Fakr Al Din.31 The Lebanese leader
was exiled to Istanbul where he was put to death in 1635.
With the absence of a strong leader, the country
returned to internal feuds and general restlessness. The
Porte appointed Ali Alam-Al-Din as governor. However,
a nephew of Fakhr Al Din, the Amir Mulhim aspired to the
position of leader, which he finally won after much struggle.
His son Ahmad continued to rule until 1697, when he died
leaving no children. For the whole of the next century
another family was to dominate the area, the Shihabs, under
whom a large measure of autonomy continued for the region.
As Hitti describes it:
The Shihabis ruled Lebanon through an
intricate system of feudal hierarchy of
prices and shayks. Like their predecessors
they followed the principle of hereditary
succession and home rule, exercising even
the power of life and death on their
Allowed to elect a leader from among themselves, the
local chiefs chose Bashir Al Shihabi I, under whom Lebanon
remained relatively calm. Heydar succeeded Bashir I as
governor until 1732, after conflicts with the Porte, when
he abdicated to allow his son Mulhim to assume power. An
ailing Mulhim, in turn, abdicated in 1754 leaving his brothers
Mansur and Ahmad to contest the vacant seat. Finally, Mulhim's
son Yusuf became governor in 1770.3
Yusuf's power was challenged by Ahmad Al Jazzar,
governor of Sidon and later Damascus, who had won the goodwill
of the Porte for his help in putting down a local revolt on
Sidon by Zahir Al Umar. Jazzar incited members of Yusuf's
family against him, and also encouraged Druze families,
as the Jumblatts and the Yazbakis, to oppose the emir Yusif,
all in an effort to increase his control over the Lebanese
emirate. Taking advantage of the resulting strife, Jazzar
moved against Yusuf, who was then forced to abdicate.
Jazzar appointed in his place Bashir Shihab, a cousin of
Yusif's, who was to dominate Lebanese affairs until 1841.3
Throughout the eighteenth century Maronite peasants
had moved south, occupying areas vacated by a large number
of Druze who had moved to Jabal Druze near Damascus. As
mentioned above, the Druze community had weakened somewhat,
owing partly to divisions within the ranks of the Druze
nobility, and the rise in Maronite influence. Maronites
worked in the Shuf with Druzes who, mindful of the need for
laborers, encouraged this trend. Soon the Maronites
became part of the feudal system.35
Also at this time a close relationship was developing
between the Maronite Patriarch and the House of Shihab.
The Maronite church had minimal influence in the early
period of the Ottoman empire although relations with Europe
underscored the importance the Vatican and other Western
countries attached to relations with the Maronites.
Relations with the Vatican began to strengthen after Pope
Gregory III sent the Jesuit Monk Eliana Batista to the Levant
in 1578. This was followed by the establishment of a college
in Rome for the education of Maronite36 clerics. The Maronites
thus came to contribute significantly to the growth of
intellectual achievements in Lebanon, and it is suggested that
it was in the seventeenth century that Lebanon's distinct
identity emerged.37 Toward the end of the eighteenth century
the Maronite Church had established itself as the largest
and most wealthy organization in Ht.Lebanon, much to the
dismay of the previously prominent Khazen family who could
do little to prevent the Church slipping from their influence
and closer to the Shihabs.
The clergy were instrumental in arousing a feeling of
nationalism among the Maronites, who now sought a separate
Maronite entity, in a period in which communal loyalties
appeared to be growing stronger. Their newly-acquired
wealth and power, plus their education, gave them leadership
qualities, aiding in the growth of the Church's religious
and social influence.
Toward the end of the eighteenth century, then, certain
tendencies appeared which served ultimately to disrupt
relations between communities living in the Mountain. These
the spread of the Maronite peasantry
southwards, the increase in the power of
their hierarchy, the gradual transfer of
Shihabi favour from Druzes to Maronites
and the growth in influence of the great
Druze families, Jumblatt and Bellama 39
Bashir II and the Role of External Powers
When Al Jazzar joined the Ottomans in successfully
resisting Napolean's siege of Acre, Bashir remained neutral
although both, especially the French leader, had sought his
help.40 In spite of this, however, Napolean did receive
support from the Maronites, who did not attempt to hide their
joy at seeing the Europeans reappear in the Levant. The
Druzes on this occasion became apprehensive, and began to see
the quarrel as a religious conflict. They began increasingly
to ambush Maronite convoys taking supplies to Napoleon's
Jazzar died in 1804 leaving Bashir to rule the area
unopposed. Bashir set out to consolidate his rule under a
centralized government, and to realize his reforms he
encroached upon some hereditary privileges of certain feudal
families and imposed heavy taxation, both of which caused some
unrest. He contributed to later strife by reducing the
power of Druze leaders and emphasing the distinction between
the sects, both aimed at securing his own position.
Nonetheless, Lebanon under Bashir continued as a refuge for
minorities, and in general experienced a strong system of law
and order. Indeed, Mt. Lebanon in this period has been
described as "an oasis of order amid the chaos."42
In the last decade of Bashir's rule, Egyptian ruler
Mohammad Ali occupied Syria. Bashir aided this conquest, much
to the indignation of the Druze, which led to an increase in
religious tension and an embittering of Maronite-Druze
relations. This episode led to the Lebanese situation
becoming the focus of international concern for the first
The period of occupation lasted from 1831-40 and the area
was administered by Ibraham Pasha, Ali's son. Bashir's
motive in aiding the Egyptians lay in his desire to strengthen
his own position at home, especially against a perceived
threat to his power from the Druze Jumblatts.43 Druze
resentment grew deeper with Ali's plans to establish full
political and social equality between the two communities,
compounded by the imposition of burdens including higher taxes,
forced labor, and a program of mandatory military service.44
Bashir assisted Ali in suppressing Druze uprisings, even
to the point, albeit reluctantly, of providing conscripts
from among the Druze. Christians were exempt from conscription,
partly because of Bashir's resistance to the plan and partly
because of the role played by European consuls in pressuring
Ali to leave the Christians alone.4
The cooperation between the Egyptian ruler and Bashir did
not last however. It became clear that Ali was set upon
disarming and conscripting the Christians, as well as the Druze.
In an attempt to rid the country of Egyptian rule, insurrections
broke out with both Maronites and Druze allying themselves
against Ali's army. In this they were aided by the Ottomans
and the British, as well as other European powers, who had no
interest in seeing the Empire collapse. Thus, seizing the chance,
the Ottomans, aided by British, Russian and Austrian troops,46
succeeded in defeating Ali's army and forcing Bashir into
The united stand of Lebanon's religious communities
during the campaign to oust Ali proved to be short-lived, and
soon started to erode, with the Turks and to a lesser extent
the British doing much to encourage this split.48 Druze
discontent was of course rooted in Bashir's collusion with
Ali in putting down their revolts, and in the subsequent
exiling of prominent Druze chiefs. Thus, with the fabric
beginning to fall apart, numerous feuds arose or were revived.
The following two decades saw a period of great unrest which
culminated in the bloodshed of 1860.
The Ottomans worked to keep the situation tense, in the
hope of demonstrating that direct Ottoman control was the
only solution for the troubled Lebanese province. They
received some rather unexpected assistance in the person of
Bashir III, whom they had nominated and who proved to be a
weak ruler. Religious tensions continued to grow under
Bashir III, who had little of the competence or could
command the allegiance of his subjects as well as his
predecessor. He was unsympathetic to Druze demands that he
return their lands and former privileges.
In October, 1841, Bashir III found himself under siege by
Druze notables and their followers after they had invited by
him to discuss pressing tax issues. Maronite-Druze fighting
ensued, with the Ottomans, in seeking revenge against France
for support of Mohammad Ali's occupation of Syria, openly
aiding the Druze against the Christians. The Druze also
received support from the Greek-Orthodox, who resented Maronite
strength, and who were also urged on by the Russian Consul.49
European consuls pressured the Ottomans to end the
fighting. Bashir was deposed in January, 1841, and exiled
to Constantinople and with him went the end of the Shihabi
era. Umar Pasha was the Porte's choice for direct rule which,
after only three months, proved unable to contain the unrest,
which had claimed about 300 lives.
The Qaim Maqamiya
At the suggestion of Austrian Chancellor Metternich,
Lebanon was divided into two administrative districts, the
qaim maqamiyah, each headed by a qa'im maqam (Lt. governor or
administrative deputy), a Christian in the North and a
Druze in the South. The Beirut-Damascus road was to be the
dividing line between the two areas. The mixed districts
in both caused problems, and consequently wakils (agents)
of both faiths were appointed for each district, with
responsibility to the qa'im maqam of his own religion.50
The significance of this arrangement was that, since
allegiance was to one's religious community, a confessional
structure was introduced for the first time, which went
beyond the Millet system considerably. The Turks were not
confident of its success. It is suggested, moreover, that it
was again an effort on their part to show the European
powers the futility of indirect Ottoman rule.51 Indeed,
the division served only to exacerbate religious tensions,
and hostilities again erupted in 1845, with the Turks again
aiding the Druze, resulting in many Christian deaths.
The Porte, again reacting to European pressure dispatched
Foreign Minister Shakib Effendi to the area to investigate
the situation first-hand. Upon his recommendation a
majlis (council) was added to the existing administration,
more specifically to each qa'im maqam. The Council was to
consist of 12 members representing the religious sects.
Besides serving the qa'im maqam the Council would decide on
tax questions, as well as certain judicial cases. The power
of traditional families was severely curtailed under this
arrangement; thus, both Christian and Druze leaders opposed
it. In addition to signalling the erosion of their power,
it also meant the weakening of the feudal system in Lebanon.
In sum, the Church's influence was seen in its weakening
of the Christian aristocracy, attaining the loyalty of the
peasants, and in general weakening the institution of
feudalism. The ideals of freedom and equality which the
Church espoused contributed to the peasant uprisings and which
in turn led to an increase in power for the already wealthy
and influential church. The 1845 conflict "started as a
politico-economic struggle between a dying feudal system and
an aggressive Church bureaucracy supported by a rising
peasantry along sectarian lines.52 Rivalry between feudal
families also took on religious overtones in the mid-
The feudal system of Mount Lebanon in the eighteenth
and nineteenth centuries was, along with the Maronite Church,
a political force shaping the nature of modern Lebanon. The
feudal (Iqta) system persists today in the patronage network.
The feudal families ran their own districts (muqata'as) and were
given a large amount of autonomy by the Sultan. Loyalty was
not really of a religious nature, but more a personal loyalty
to the families (muqatijis) and their amir, as the feudal
leader's district compromised different religious groups.
Patronage existed here, with protection accorded to the
family's followers, the support of whom was necessary for the
muqatijis' power. There was little coercion involved in this
relationship. Elsewhere in the empire, this type of
relationship was not common.
In addition to the religious diversity of these villages,
the patronage network was strengthened by the nature of these
communities. Isolated and tightly-knit communities, these
villages sought protection from central authority and other
villages. Loyalty to the family and religion was matched by
loyalty to the village. Under the Maans and Shihabis conflicts
among the feudal families were common.
The Troubled "Inter-War" Years
Lebanon lived relatively quietly under this system
until the disturbances of 1860, with the Ottomans working
to make the area more subservient to the Porte. In the
interim years, however, the Maronite community in the
North was internally troubled. The conflict involved the
powerful Khazin family, the Church and the Maronite peasants,
who opposed the excessive taxes levied on them, demanding that
some of the reforms instituted by Ibraham Pasha be continued.5
Supported by the Maronite clergy, who in the 1840's
"exhibited an unparalleled zeal towards independence from the
Porte,"55 the peasants revolted against their feudal chiefs
in 1858. Led by Taniyus Shaheen, by 1859 they had seized the
land and had set up a peasant republic in the Kisrawan
region, further complicating the relations between the
communities.5 "By 1858 the Lebanese question had become so
involved that scarcely an incident took place which did not have
repercussions in the Chanceries of Europe, particularly
London and Paris."57
What was essentially a social conflict soon spread and
assumed a religious nature. The success of the peasants in the
North was an encouraging sign to other peasants, especially
those living in the mixed Druze districts of the South.
Maronite and Druze peasants in the South rose against their
Druze Lords, but soon the Druze peasants, ever suspicious of
Maronite intentions, began to side with their lords against the
Maronites. The Druze had in fact waited for an opportune
moment to strike at the Maronites, and in early 1860 they
discussed with the Ottomans military measures to be taken
against the Maronites. The Ottomans wanted, for their
part, to stem the Maronite drive for independence.
The fighting which broke out resulted in "a massacre of
the Maronites almost unparalleled in its brutality and the
zeal with which it was conducted." Four weeks of fighting
left 15,000 Christians dead, plus 100,000 refugees. The
Christians looked to outside powers as their only salvation
(a stand they were to take a century later in both the 1958
and 1975-76 crises). With the collusion of the Ottomans, the
Moslems of Damascus fell upon the Christians, killing over
5,000 in one day. Ultimately 25,000 were killed in Damascus,
including the American and Dutch consuls 60-more reason to
involve the major powers. In all, over 300 villages, 500
churches, 40 monasteries and 30 schools were destroyed.61
The European powers reacted with shock. They agreed to
send 12,000 troops, but France, under Napoleon III, on its
own initiative sent 7,000 troops. Fuad Pasha, Ottoman Foreign
Minister, had, in anticipation of foreign intervention, set
about apprehending and executing many of the perpetrators
of the massacres, including the governor of Damascus, and
providing relief funds for Christians.62
After eight months of intense discussions with the
European powers (France, Britain, Austria, Prussia and Russia)
a statute was signed on June 9, 1861, known as the Reglement
Organique, "the first truly organic law of the Lebanon."63
The Statute stipulated that Mt. Lebanon was to be an autonomous
part of the Ottoman empire. The entity, known as the
Mutasarrifiyah, was to be administered by a non-Lebanese
Christian, approved by both the Porte and the Great Powers.
Thus, with the Mutasarrifiyah a new era began in Lebanese
politics. Under this new arrangement Lebanon was to
experience peace and stability until the outbreak of World
The Mutasarrifiyah--Confessional Representation Institutionalized
The Statute established something which was to affect
Lebanese politics for the next century, and this was the
consolidation of the principle of confessional apportionment
of seats in the governmental institutions. As in the case of
the later Covenant of 1943, this provided for a type of checks
and balances system, in which no one community gained
predominance. The Mutasarrifiyah covered essentially what is
present day Mt. Lebanon. It excluded Beirut, Tripoli, Sidon
and the fertile Bekaa valley.
A code of 17 articles was established stipulating the
manner in which the new system was to be administered. The
Mutasarrif (governor or administrator) was to be the direct
representative of the Porte, though he maintained wide-ranging
powers. A Majlis Idarah (the Central Administrative
Council) was set up, consisting of 12 members, two from each
sect. This was later changed in 1864, giving seats in the
Majlis according to community size. These representatives
were to be chosen by the leaders of each religious community,
and they came to consist of 4 Maronites, 3 Druze, 2 Greek-
Orthodox, 1 Greek-Catholic, 1 Shiite and 1 Sunni, as
indicated by Table I.65
DISTRIBUTION OF THE MEMBERS OF THE CENTRAL
ADMINISTRATIVE COUNCIL BY SECT AND REGION
Region Maronite Orthodox Catholic Sunni Shia
Kisrawan 1 1
Batroun 1 1
Jazzin 1 1 1 3
Matn 1 1 1 1 4
Shuf 1 1
Koura 1 1
Zahle 1 1
Total 4 2 1 1 1 3 12
SOURCE: Abdo I. Baaklini, Legislative and Political
Development: Lebanon, 1842-1972 (Durham: Duke
University Press, 1976), p.49.
The Council, which assisted the Mutasarrif in the
administration of Mt. Lebanon, further institutionalized
the principle of proportional religious representation for
the area. The Council had power over taxes, local government,
works projects and land tenure. The Mutasarrif acted
through the Council, as did the different religious factions
in an attempt to increase their power. The Council, it is
important to note, claimed to represent all the Lebanese
people, acting "in many respects as the first truly elected
representative body for the Lebanese people."67
The Council trained administrators allowed for political
change and institutionalized political conflict. It allowed
the feudal aristocracy to engage in business activities, such as
trade, commerce and industry. A degree of tolerance and
cooperation grew between the feudal aristocracy and the new
educated elements who formed a growing middle class.
Economic and religious cleavages were seen as part of Lebanese
life. This open religious, political and economic structure
remained until independence. Competition was within
sects, while a candidate for office needed the support of
different sects leading to moderation and compromise. The
electoral process, in essence, remained the same, with some
minor modifications, in independent Lebanon. It may be said
that the origin of Lebanon's institutions lay with the
Qaim Maqamiya and the Mutasarrifiyah, which made possible
representation for all groups.
In addition the area was sub-divided into 7 districts,
each headed by a qa'im maqam, who was drawn from the largest
community. The Reglement abolished the feudal system and its
privileges, therefore, proclaiming full equality for all.
Lebanon was given its own police force, assured of the
non-interference of Ottoman troops, no military service or
taxes for the Porte.
The Mutasarrifiyah thus contributed directly to the
establishment of confessional representation in Lebanon.
Religious differences were institutionalized making the sects
more conscious of the differences separating them. Religion,
in short, became the basis for the relationship between
individuals and their representatives in the government.
Increased communal loyalty resulted among the peasants,
who were now organized by the Church. This occurred especially
among the Maronites of Mount Lebanon where the Church was
instrumental in cultivating a religious loyalty. The Church,
though, was unhappy that a non-Lebanese rather than a Maronite
headed the new system. In addition it was dissatisfied that
Maronite representation was not commensurate with its numerical
strength. Its influence on the new administration, also, was
minimal since the feudal families were able to maintain their
power through this new vehicle.
Feudalism, however, did not die but rather assumed new
forms. Urban and rural leaders, who formed common bonds of
cooperation, continued to dispense favors from their new
positions in the Mutasarrifiyah, a system moreover that
accorded citizens equal rights, and which signalled the growth
of the concept of confessional representation in the
institutions of the state. In essence the Mutasarrifiyah
gave Lebanon an internationally recognized identity, and gave
the Maronites specifically a political identity and sense of
The Reglement, described as a "multifarious dialectic
of rival diplomatic pressures and aims,"68 led to the
appointment of Daud Pasha as the first, and perhaps the most
competent, of seven administrators. He had been a compromise
candidate. Britain had opposed France's demands for a
Maronite candidate, fearing increased French influence in the
area. France did, however, support the administration of
Duad Pasha, hoping both to preserve the autonomy of the Empire
and to show Lebanon as an example for other minorities.
The only opposition to the Mutasarrifiyah came from a
number of Maronites, led by Yusaf Bey Karam, who was active in
protecting Christian areas in the 1860 fighting, and who now
apparently hoped to become governor. Karam, who "represented
the Maronite nationalism of the Northern Lebanese in its
strongest temper"69 was defeated by the forces of the Pasha,
aided by Ottoman troops, and was exiled in 1861 to Egypt. He
returned in 1866, and again was exiled, this time to Italy where
he died in 1889. The Maronites after this ceased to strongly
resist the new Mutasarrifiyah.
Although a supporter of the administration, France registered
its displeasure with Daud, declaring it did not look favorably
on the "spilling of Christian blood."70 European powers in
general took a more active interest in the area after the
establishment of the Mutasarrifiyah. Numerous Jesuit schools
opened, the most famous of which is today the French
St. Joseph University, plus a number of American schools,
particularly the Syrian Protestant Mission, which later became
the American University of Beirut. The Lebanese Christians
embraced these Western overtures more so than did any other
The French were most active in setting up hospitals and
schools in the Mountain, resulting in the spread of the
French language and helping establish a literacy level
unmatched anywhere in the Empire. The Christians, especially
the Maronites, became superior in education, having "none
of the Moslems' religious or political reservations "71
began to develop a strong sense of Lebanese identity. The
Maronites took pride in their friendship and the Papacy.
As Spagnolo explains, they were:
S. imbued with a feeling of cultural
superiority of Christians over non-
Christians . their conviction was not so
much the product of a religious fever, as
of the sophistication of its religious
education. . clergy had also imbied some
of the feeling of contempt towards things
non-Christian which was prevalent in the
This education led to the Maronites being the source a
literary revival that spread to the entire Arabic-speaking
Mt. Lebanon also began to develop agriculturally and
economically. More trade with Europe and large remittances
sent back to relatives by a growing number of mainly Maronite
emigrants helped development considerably. Material
achievements soon equalled the intellectual heights attained.
Perhaps Ilitti's analysis best sums it up:
Despite general incompetence on the part
of its governors, reduction in its area
loss of access to the sea and deprivation
of fertile maritime and inland plains,
Mt. Lebanon--thanks to the resourcefulness,
energy and adaptability of its people--
enjoyed a period of cultural flourish and
economic prosperity and achieved a state
of security and stability unattained by any
Ottoman province, European or Asian.74
The French Mandate, 1918-1943:
The Consolidation of Consociational Principles
With the outbreak of the First World War, the Ottomans,
allied with the Central Powers, imposed direct rule over
Lebanon, abolishing the Mutasarrifiyah. The ruler of Lebanon
in this period, Jamal Pasha, imposed restrictions on assembly,
and the press, tolerated no political expression, and
general imposed dictatorial rule. He discriminated
against the people of the area, especially in the
distribution of food, which led to widespread famine and
disease, leaving over 100,000 dead by the end of the war.
Christians were ill-treated for their alleged sympathy for
the Allies, and Moslems for activities associated with
Arab nationalist groups. In 1916 the Turks executed a
number of Lebanese, including the Mayor of Beirut, for
alleged subversive activities.7
During the war, the British High Commissioner of Egypt
Sir Henry MacMahon had promised Sharif Husayn, Protector
of the Holy Places in Mecca and Medina, independence for
the Arabs in return for their help against the Turks. This
arrangement was complicated by the Sykes-Picot agreement
of 1916 which stated that Britain and France would divide
the area into spheres of influence, with Britain taking
Iraq and Transjordan, and France assuming control over
Lebanon and Syria.77 Palestine was to be put under
international administration and complicating the issue
was the Balfour Declaration, which stated Britain's desire to
establish a Jewish homeland in Palestine.
Despite misunderstandings with the British over the
future status of Lebanon, Sharif Husayn began the revolt
against the Turks in 1916. With the defeat of Turkey in
1918, the time had now come for France to pick up some of
the pieces of the Ottoman empire. It was the aim of the
French to maintain and extend their influence in Lebanon which,
as noted above, had long been established. To do this
they had to put an end to Arab ambitions in Syria, and this
they did by forcefully removing the Arab government
established in Damascus by Faysel, Sharif Iusayn's son.
In an effort to determine the wishes of the people of
the area concerning their future, President Wilson supported
the King-Crane commission sent to the Middle East to
investigate and recommend a course of action. Its
recommendation that Lebanon continue to be an autonomous
part of a larger Syria fell on deaf ears, as France and
Britain did not support the Commission.78 The issue was
taken up by the leaders of the Allied Powers in San Remo
on April 20, 1920. The Treaty of Sevres which followed
on August 10 gave Lebanon to France, while Turkey disclaimed
any of the territory of the former empire.7 The Mandate
was subsequently approved by the League of Nations in
September 1923. France's position in Lebanon was not strongly
disputed by any allied power. Its claim for special right
there, its great influence among the Christians, and the
need to maintain the safety of the Suez Canal all were
recognized as legitimate concerns for the French.80
After World War I the Central Administrative Council
called for a larger, independent Lebanon with a democratic
government with rights for all minorities. The French
abolished the Council on the pretext that some of its
members favored a Greater Syria, and until 1922 the French
ruled with an advisory council of 17 members, drawn from
all sects. In 1922 a Representative Council was formed and
dissolved in 1925. A new Council was formed in 1926 and
this succeeded in adopting a constitution, which called for
the establishment of a legislature made up of both a Senate
and Chamber of Deputies. The Senate was to have 16
members, seven appointed by the President and the rest
elected for six year terms while the Deputies were to
serve a four year term. Both Iouses were to elect a
President who was to choose a Prime Minister. The Senate
was abolished the following year while more powers were
given to the President.
The legislature combined all the country's groups and
gave the new state a constitution. It became a forum for
the calls for independence, and led to the growth of a
feeling of accommodation and cooperation. The legislature,
with its various sects, spoke with one voice in demanding
and achieving the country's independence.
The first French High Commissioner in Beirut, General
Henri Gouraud, announced in 1920 the creation of Greater
Lebanon, adding to the Mutasarrifiyah the areas taken away
in 1861, former areas once ruled by the Ma'ans and Shihabs.
With the addition of Beirut, Tripoli, Sidon, Tyre and the
Bekaa Lebanon lost its religious harmony and homogeneity.
With the new areas came a large Moslem population, which was
the "price" the French and Maronites were willing to pay for
an economically viable state.81
The Christians, mainly Maronites, had worked for the
addition of the other areas, and in the process had become
only a slight majority in a state that now had numerous
disgruntled Moslems. The Maronite Patriarch had been
assured by GeorgesClemenceau in Paris that the enlarged
Lebanese state would become independent.82 France desired a
state where Maronites would be dominant, and its afore-
mentioned ties with the Maronites would be strengthened and
lead to an entrenching of France in the Middle East. As one
author sees it:
France enlarged Lebanon to include
enough Christians to justify setting
up a separate government, but also a
sufficient number of Moslems to assure
the need for continued French protection
of their political hegemony.83
The Moslems, for their part, were unhappy with the new
arrangement and demanded to be included in a greater Syria.
This sentiment was strongest among the Sunnis, and this was to
remain their "favourite theme"84 in the next two decades.
The Shiites, with few co-religionists in Syria, were not
unhappy with their inclusion in the new Lebanese state.
Similarly the Druze, now outnumbered by the Moslems, were not
opposed to the French plan, as they feared becoming part of
a Syrian state that would be overwhelmingly Sunni.85 The
Greek-Orthodox opted for union with Syria rather than life
under Maronite influence.
The allegiance to the new state was strongest among
Maronites, who saw it as their own creation and themselves as
having played the central role in Lebanon's history. "Various
spokesmen for the Lebanese nationalism professed its origins
to lie in Lebanon's Phoenician culture, which they considered
separate and distinct from Moslem Arab culture."86 The
French, in an effort to prevent the growth of a strong Arab
nat-onalism, highlighted the distinction between the Moslem
sects. This distinction was so much clearer, though, between
the two major communities. In the words of one author:
Since for Moslems and Christians alike
consciousness of belonging to a religious
community was the basis of political and
social obligation, both were very
conscious of not belong to other
communities, and the sense of distinctive-
ness led easily to suspicion and dislike.87
To allay Moslem fears that the new state had a
"mainly Christian atmosphere,"88 the French made religion
the basis for participation in the state, establishing a
system of confessional representation that was to take root
and grow during the remainder of the French Mandate.
Despite the alleged "irritating"89 attitude and
behavior of the French in Lebanon, the Lebanese administration
(similar to France's own) grew steadily in the next two
decades. Schools were built, a modern network of roads took
shape, the economy grew, aided considerably by improvements
in communication, agriculture and health.
On May 24, 1926, a Constitution was proclaimed and
Lebanon was made a Republic, amid vociferous protests from
the Moslems who had no desire to discuss a Lebanese con-
stitution,90 especially one that recognized the country's
religious divisions, and one which had more of a Christian
than a Moslem base. The Constitution was approved by the
Lebanese Representative Council (elected in July, 1925),
which thereupon became the Chamber of Deputies (Parliament).
The Chamber elected Charles Debbas the first President of the
Republic,91 whose powers included appointment of a Cabinet.
The Constitution provided for a bicameral legislature of 30
members, 15 to be elected and 15 to be nominated. After the
first elections in 1929 the apportionment of seats was:
Maronites 15, Sunnis 11, Shiites 8, Greek-Orthodox 6,
Druze 3, Greek-Catholic 3, Armenian Catholic 1, Armenian
With regard to the planned confessional system of
Lebanon, Article 95 of the Constitution specifies equal,
that is proportional, apportionment of public posts to the
sects, but not specifying exact ratios. The article
states partly that ". . for the sake of justice and concord,
the communities shall be equitably represented in public
employment and in the Ministry. .93
The mid-twenties also saw a period of unrest among the
Druze. The rebellion which erupted in Syria in 1925
spread to Lebanon the following year, where Moslems began
isolated attacks on Christian villages, leading to an
increase in religious tension. Following bombardment of
Damascus, the French were able to quell the revolt, and by
the end of 1927 the rebellion had completely dissipated.94
Developments in the thirties were also affected by two
prominent politicians, Emile Edde and Bishara El Khoury.
Both Maronites, they were the dominant political figures of
this period. Edde strongly supported the French presence
in Lebanon, asserting Lebanon's independence was contingent
upon it, while Khoury felt the French would only prevent
closer cooperation between Moslems and Christians, which he
felt was needed to give the new state much-needed stability.95
It was the intense competition between these two leaders
which led to the suspension of the Constitution in 1932,
the year in which the first population census was taken
CENSUS OF LEBANESE POPULATION TAKEN IN 1932
Druzes .. .................. ......53,047
Maronites ..................... 226,378
SOURCE: Albert H. Hourani, Syria and Lebanon (London:
Oxford University Press, 1954), p. 121.
Since the Chamber could not decide between Khouri and Edde,
the suggestion was made that Sheikh Mohammad El Jisr, a
Moslem notable from Tripoli, be nominated. The French High
Commissioner stepped in and suspended the Constitution,
rather than allow the Presidency to go to a Moslem. Debbas
was succeeded by Iabib Assad, a Maronite, in 1934, and in
1936 Edde was elected and stayed in power until the
Constitution was again suspended in 1939 with the beginning
of the Second World War.96
Though the Sunnis were quite numerous it was felt that they,b'
the early 1930s, were still not fully assimilated. As one
French newspaper commented, "A Lebanon quite intoxicated
with Arabism and where 45 percent of Lebanon declined to be
Lebanese, is not a viable Lebanon." Isolated clashes
again broke out between Maronites and Sunnis with the
announcement of a French-Lebanese Treaty in 1936. This
provided for Lebanese independence within three years,with
France retaining control over defense and foreign affairs
until 1961.98 The Maronites were happy with the Treaty while
the Sunnis saw it as finally precluding any union with Syria.
The Treaty was never ratified by the French Parliament,
which led to some resentment among Maronite ranks.
Independence for Lebanon took a back seat when World
War Two broke out. The French abrogated the 1936 Treaty and
again suspended the Constitution, dismissing the Cabinet.99
The British and Free French mounted an offensive against the
newly-installed Vichy administration and on June 8, 1941,
General Catroux declared Lebanon and Syria independent.100
Alfred Naccache was appointed President until such time that
elections could be held. The results of the subsequent
elections in the summer of 1943 were a blow to the French,
as Bishara El Khoury's Constitutional Bloc emerged the
winners over Edde's more pro-French National Bloc. Meanwhile,
state services were gradually being turned over to the
Khouri immediately set about amending the Constitution,
removing clauses pertaining to French rights and announcing
the end of the Mandate. Parliament passed these amendments,
and immediately the French Delegate Jean Helleu responded by
arresting and imprisoning the President and his Cabinet.
Helleu's action served to unite Christians and Moslems in a
nation-wide strike. American and British pressure finally
led to their release on November 22, eleven days after they
were imprisoned, and this day has since been celebrated as
Lebanon's day of Independence.
By the end of 1944 Lebanon had taken over all of the
services previously provided by the French, with one notable
exception. The Troupes Speciales were Lebanese soldiers
trained and officered by the French, and which were later to
form the backbone of the Lebanese army. The French held on
to these for the next two years. Although De Gaulle continued
to hold out for rights in military and foreign affairs, France
finally transferred the Troupes Speciales to the Lebanese and
by December 31, 1946 the final French soldier was evacuated.
In 1943 an agreement came into being between President
Khoury and his Sunni Prime Minister, which became known as
the National Pact or Covenant (Al Mithaq Al Watani). This
unwritten agreement stipulated that Lebanon was to maintain
its independence from both the West and the Arab World.
Christians were not to seek protection from the Christian West
and the Moslems were not to seek union with other Moslem Arab
states. Public offices were to be distributed according to
the numerical strength of the communities. The agreement
stated that, accordingly, the President was always to be a
Maronite, the Prime Minister a Sunni, and the Speaker of
the House a Shiite. Parliamentary seats were to follow a
six to five ratio (always a multiple of eleven). The first
post-independence Parliament gave Christians 30 seats and
This arrangement was put to the test a number of times
in Lebanon's post-war years, and it is these crises with
which we will be concerned in the following chapters.
1. Confessionalism refers to the system whereby representation
or participation in a state's political process is
accorded to the society's religious sects in proportion
to their numberical strength.
2. Philip K. Hitti, Lebanon in History (London: MacMillan
and Co, Ltd, 1957), p. 4.
3. Nicola A. Ziadeh, Syria and Lebanon (New York:
Frederick A. Praeger, Inc., 1957), pp. 27-8.
4. Mount Lebanon is the historical area inhabited primarily
by Maronites, which existed as an autonomous area under
the Ottoman rulers until World War I when France added
other areas to the Mountain creating the state of
5. The Eastern Mediterranean region.
6. Albert H. Hourani, Syria and Lebanon (London: Oxford
University Press, 1954-T, p. 15.
7. The alphabet was transferred to the Greeks around 800 B.C.,
who developed it further. See Hitti, op. cit.,
8. Hitti, op. cit., pp. 77-78.
9. Ibid., pp. 88-89.
10. Ibid., pp. 143-151.
11. Philip Hitti, A Short History of the Near East
(Princeton: D. Van Nostrand Co, Inc.,1966), p. 71.
12. Hitti, Lebanon in History, p. 211.
13. P.M. Holt, Egypt and the Fertile Crescent, 1516-1922
(New York: Cornell University Press, 1966 p. 10.
14. Ibid., p. 11.
15. Hourani, op. cit., p. 21.
16. Moslems do not consider Christians to be by their nature
"inferior". Rather they are seen as having gone
"astray", accepting Christ as God Incarnate, and not
as simply a prophet, as the Moslems do. Moslems in
turn see Mohammed as the final prophet. Since
Christians and Jews are "People of the Book", believing
in one God, the scriptures and a Day of Judgement, they
are viewed with toleration. See Hourani, Ibid., pp. 59-62.
17. The Maronites were originally farmers from the Orontes
valley and the area around Antioch. Fleeing the Jacobists,
Byzantines and the Moslems, they moved into the North
Lebanon mountains where they settled permanently and
formed a feeling of nationalism or at least separateness.
The name is taken from St. Maroun (their patron saint),
an ascetic monk who lived in the fourth century. They
were previously Monothelites, that is, they believed
Christ had two natures but one will. Due mainly to
Crusader influence, they became a Uniate church in 1180.
They continue to use the Syriac liturgy, the traditional
language of the Eastern Church, and the clergy are
allowed to marry. The spiritual Head is the Patriarch
of Antioch and All the East, who is elected by local
Bishops and confirmed by the Pope. They comprise the
single largest sect in Lebanon today. See Hitti,
Lebanon in History, op. cit., pp. 247-249 and Iliya
Harik, Politics and Change in a Traditional Society:
Lebanon 1711-1845 Princeton: Princeton University
Press, 196) pp. 18-23.
18. The Druze (sing. and pl.) are an offshoot of Orthodox
Islam. They were originally followers of the Fatimid
Caliph Al Hakim (Egyptian ruler, 996-1021), who claimed
divine origin and final incarnation. The claim is that
God's will is known to only a few, more specifically
ten men, through whom God became man, the most perfect
being Al Hakim. Monotheistic and Monogamous, the Druze
take their name from Mohammed Al Darazi, one of the
main founders of the sect. They are a tightly knit
community and comprise about 7 seven per cent of Lebanon's
population. See Hitti, Lebanon in History, op. cit.,
pp. 23-24 and Kamal Salibi, A Modern History of Lebanon
(New York: Frederick A. Praeger, 1965), p. xviii.
19. Ziadeh, op. cit., p. 31.
20. Hitti, Lebanon in History, op. cit. p. 282.
21. Hourani, op. cit., p. 23.
22. Hitti, Lebanon in History, op. cit., pp. 301-309.
23. Hourani, op. cit., p. 23.
24. Islam split into the Sunni and Shiite branches after the
death of Mohammad in 632. The supporters of All, the
Prophet's son-in-law, lost the succession to a line of
Caliphs whom the Sunnis recognize as the true successors
to Mohammad. The Shiites believe the succession was
passed to a line of Imamas, Ali being the first of
twelve, all of whom they believe had divine revelation.
The Shiites are the most impoverished and least advanced
community in Lebanon. The Sunnis are the majority in
the Arab world, and they consider themselves adherents
to the original orthodox Islam. The four schools of
Sunni Islam are the Maliki, Hambali, Shafii, and the Hanafi.
See Hourani, Ibid., p. 122 and Albert Hourani,
Minorities in the Arab World (London: Oxford University
Press, 1947), pp. 6-7.
25. Thousands of Maronites fled to Cyprus, establishing the
only Maronite community outside Lebanon existing to the
26. Albert Hourani, "Lebanon: The Development of a
Political Society," in Leonard Binder (ed.), Politics
in Lebanon (New York: John Wiley and Sons, In., 1966)
27. In this light he is seen as having created "the Greater
Lebanon for the first time." Robin Fedden, Syria and
Lebanon (London: John Murray, 1965), p. 214.
28. He went so far as to support the building of churches
and encourage European Missionaries. Holt, op. cit.,
29. Ibid., pp. 116-117.
30. A title given to powerful clan leaders.
31. Ibid., pp. 118-119.
32. Hitti, Short History of the Near East, op. cit.,
p. 222. The Shihabis were addressed by the princely
title of 'Emir'.
33. Salibi, The Modern History of Lebanon, op. cit., p. 12.
In 1756 Mulhim's sons converted to Christianity, with
their father's approval. The rule of Yusuf Shihab
signalled the beginning of the decline of Druze political
dominance, and the growth of Maronite power, hitherto
relatively weak. Thus, it is not uncommon to find both
Moslem and Christian Shihabs in Lebanon, the most
prominent of the latter group being Fuad Shihab,
Lebanon's President from 1958-64.
34. Holt, op. cit., p. 123 and Salibi, op. cit., p. 16.
35. Iliya Harik, "The Ethnic Revolution and Political Integration
in the Middle East," International Journal of Middle
East Studies (July, 1972T,p. 313.
36. Harik, Politics and change in a traditional society,
op. cit., p. 96 In an indication of the value placed
on close relations with the Maronites, Pope Leo X had
described the Lebanese Catholics as "roses among thorns".
Ibid., p. 133. Also LouisXIV in 1649 extended protection
to the Maronites and had French representatives treat
them "with all possible charity and gentleness". See
text of proclamation in J.C. Hurewitz, The Middle East
and North Africa in World Politics: A Documentary
Record (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1975), p. 28.
37. Albert Hourani, "Lebanon from Feudalism to Modern State,"
Middle Eastern Studies (April, 1966), p. 256. This
article is a review of Kamal Salibi's book, The Modern
History of Lebanon.
38. For a rather detailed history of the Maronite Church,
see Harik, Politics and Change in a Traditional Society,
op, cit., pp. 74-126 plus Iliya Harik, "The Maronite
Church and Political change in Lebanon", in Binder,
op. cit., pp. 31-55, for the period of the Shihabi
39. Albert Hourani, A Vision of History (Beirut: Khayats,
1961), p. 42.
40. Holt, op. cit., p. 232
41. Salibi, op. cit., p. 21.
42. Hourani, Syria and Lebanon, op. cit., p. 27.
43. Kamal Jumblatt, who led the Palestinian-Lebanese
Leftist alliance in the civil war, is a direct descendant
of this family.
44. Hitti, Lebanon in History, op. cit., pp. 421-423.
The Egyptian viceroy had demanded Syria from the Ottomans
in return for his aid in fighting the Greek war of
independence and the Wahhabis of Arabia. It is suggested
that he wanted Syria to act as a buffer zone between
his center of power in the Nile valley and the Ottoman
possessions of Anatolia. Holt, op. cit., p. 184.
45. Salibi, op. cit., p. 31. France had consistently
supported the Ottoman empire, so as both to maintain
an ally in this region, and to consolidate and expand
their trade links with the area. In spite of this,
France supported Ali's conquest of Syria "as many
Frenchmen came to regard (Ali) as the spiritual
successor of Bonaparte in Egypt." Ibid., p. 32.
46. Part of the reasons for support outside powers gave to
different communities was probably the hope that they
could divide the area between themselves if and when
the empire collapsed. Russia wanted to continue her
role as protector of the Greek-Orthodox, which she
claimed was implicit in the treaty of Kuchuk-Kaynarja
(1774). Holt, op. cit., p. 238. Also for a discussion
of how Russia sought tofurthur her political interests
in the Levant through its ecclesiastical policy, see
T.G. Stavrou, "Russian interest in the Levant, 1843-48,"
Middle East Journal (Winter-Spring, 1963), pp. 91-103.
Britain, for its part, sought to establish ties with the
Druze. See W.R. Polk (ed.), "The British connections
with the Druzes," Middle East Journal (Winter-Spring, 1963),
154-156. Austria hoped to replace France as protector
of the Maronites, something which never materialized.
See also Leila Meo, Lebanon: Improbable Nation
(Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1965), pp. 24-8.
47. Hitti, Short History of the Near East, op. cit., p. 224.
48. Fedden, op. cit., p. 219.
49. Salibi, op. cit., p. 51. This resentment continues
today, as it is mainly the Greek-Orthodox that support
leftist parties, as the Social Natonalist Party which
espouses a pan-Arab secular state. This party is
anathema to the more right-wing parties, especially the
mainly Maronite Phalange. The Greek-Orthodox are
adherents of the Orthodox Eastern Church, who split
with the Western Church in the eleventh century. They
reject Papal supremacy. The Patriarch of Antioch, whose
seat is in Damascus, is the spiritual leader. The
liturgy used is Arabic.
50. Holt, op. cit., p. 259.
51. Hitti, Lebanon in History, op. cit., p. 435.
52. Abdo Baaklini, Legislative and Political Development:
Lebanon, 1842-1972 (Durham: Duke University Press, 1976)
53. Throughout these conflict-ridden years fearful Maronites
sought stronger ties with France, while Britain, which
had signed an alliance with the Druze in 1842, began
establishing Protestant missions. Opposition to thses
missions by the Maronites soured their relations with
the British, as the Druze opened their doors wider to
the British missions. The Maronites displayed their
affinity for the French by raising French flags on
Church buildings. Salibi, op. cit., p. 58 and
Antoine Abraham, "Lebanese communal relations," The
Muslim World (April, 1977), p. 92.
54. Meo, op. cit., p. 16
55. Abraham, op. cit., p. 91.
56. Hourani, Syria and Lebanon, op. cit., p. 32.
57. Salibi, op. cit., p. 77.
58. Holt, op. cit., p. 240.
59. Abraham, op. cit., p. 97.
60. S.J. Shaw and E.K. Shaw, The History of the Ottoman
Empire and Modern Turkey (New York: Cambridge University
Press, 1977), p. 143.
61. Ibid. For more details on the fighting, see Salibi,
op. cit., pp. 90-105.
62. Britain in 1861 had intervened on behalf of a number of
Druze that had been sentenced to death. Hourani,
"Lebanon from Feudalism to Modern State," op. cit., p. 258.
63. C.G. Hess and H.L. Bodman, "Confessionalism and Feudality
in Lebanese Politics," The Middle East Journal (Winter,
1954), p. 13.
64. For the full text of the Reglement Organique, see
Hurewitz, op. cit., pp. 346-49.
65. Hess and Bodman, op. cit., p. 14. The number of signatories
to the statutes of 1861 and 1864 rose to 7 when Italy
joined in 1867.
66. Baaklini, op. cit., p. 50.
67. Ibid., p. 51.
68. John P. Spagnolo, "Mount Lebanon, France and Daud Pasha:
A study of some aspects of political habituation,"
International Journal of Middle East Studies (April,
1971), p. 148.
69. Harik, Politics and change in a traditional society,
op. cit., p. 151.
70. Spagnolo, op. cit., p. 156.
71. Salibi, op. cit., p. 142.
72. Spagnolo, "Constitutional change in Mt. Lebanon,
1861-1864," Middle East Studies (January, 1971), p. 38.
73. Ibid., p. 26.
74. Hitti, Lebanon in History, op. cit., p. 447.
75. Ziadeh, op. cit., p. 46.
76. George Haddad, Fifty Years of Modern Syria and Lebanon
(Beirut: Dar Al Hayat, 1950), pp. 48-49.
77. Holt, op. cit., pp. 264-266.
78. Longrigg, op. cit., pp. 87-92.
79. Ibid., p. 109.
80. See text of Mandate in Helen Davis, Constitutions,
electoral laws treaties of states in the Near and
Middle East (Durham: Duke University Press, 1947),
81. France had in fact indicated it was in Lebanon to
protect the interests of the Maronites. Salibi,
op. cit., p. 163.
82. Pierre Rondot, "Lebanese Institutions and Arab Nationalism,"
Journal of Contemporary History (July, 1968), p. 40.
83. Don Peretz, The Middle East Today (New York: Holt,
Rinehart and Winston, Inc., 1963Y, p. 322.
84. Meo, op. cit., p. 56.
85. George Kirk, Contemporary Arab Politcs: A Concise
History (New York: F.A. Praeger, Inc., 1961), p. 117.
86. Meo, op. cit., p. 70.
87. Hourani, Syria and Lebanon, op. cit., p. 63.
88. Ibid., p. 184.
89. Ziadeh, op. cit., pp. 50-51. Also, Longrigg, who was
himself a British official in Iraq at the time, writes
that the French regarded the area as its own, with no
visible intention displayed that it was intent on
guiding Lebanon to independence. Longrigg, op. cit.,
p. 110. Also Peretz, op. cit., p. 323.
90. Rondot, op. cit., p. 41.
91. Although the Greek-Orthodox were not the dominant
community, they were given the Presidency to allay
their fears of being overshadowed by the Maronites.
Also it sought to reassure the Moslems that Lebanon
was not simply a homeland for the Maronites. However,
since no Sunni would serve as Prime Minister,
92. Longrigg, op. cit., p. 102. A constitutional amendment
subsequently abolished the Senate in 1937 and specified
Parliament to consist of two-thirds and one-third
93. Full text in Davis, op. cit., pp. 170-185.
94. For a detailed account, see Longrigg, op. cit., pp. 154-169.
95. Salibi, op. cit., p. 175. Edde had publicly declared
that Lebanon was a "Christian island in a Muslim sea",
emphasising its Western culture dating back to the
Phoenicians. Edde had formed the National Bloc in
1934, and Khoury the Constitutional Bloc. Lebanon's
political parties will be discussed in more detail in the
96. Ziadeh, op. cit., p. 53.
97. L'Orient of 5-6 September, 1931, quoted in Rondot,
op. cit., p. 45.
98. Hitti, Lebanon in History, op. cit., p. 492.
99. Hourani, Syria and Lebanon, op. cit., p. 230.
100. General Catroux's full Declaration is in Davis, op. cit.,
101. Haddad, op. cit., p. 93. Two ministers, Habib Abu
Shahla (Orthodox) and Majid Arslan (Druze) escaped and
set up a government.
102. Meo, op. cit., pp. 82-83.
THE OPERATION OF THE LEBANESE POLITICAL SYSTEM
We now turn to a discussion of the nature of the
Lebanese political system, with a specific focus on its
confessional character, and the concept of proportionality
which underlay it. Linked to this will be a survey of
clientelism, an integral part of traditional Lebanese
politics, and its relation to the country's consociational
system. In essence, we are looking here at the "rules of the
game", as applied to Lebanon in the post-independence period.
The main characteristics of the system, on which we will
expound below, are summarized by Hudson:
(1) A particularistic "mosaic" society;
(2) an authoritarian and hierarchical
family structure; (3) religious
institutions that are politically
influential; (4) power dispersed in
religious sect, regional grouping,
economic pressure groups, and ideologically
oriented political movements; (5) foreign
influence in politics. . (6) a cult of
leadership, historically the result of
feudalism which has produced parties of
notables, each with a local clientele. .
Confessionalism and Proportionality:
Nominal Actors and Formal Rules
In general terms, the major actors in the Lebanese
political system are the sects or religious groups, and more
specifically the major families within each community. Religion,
of course, represents the major cleavage in Lebanon. Hourani
The primary divisions inside the Near
East are, as they have been for a
thousand years, religious: whether a
man is Moslem, Christian, or Jew, and
which branch of the Moslem,Christian,
or Jewish community he belongs to.2
Recruitment, family competition and the nature of the
clientage system are directly related to the role played by
religion in Lebanon. Religion as part of the state goes back
to the Mutasarrifiyah. Loyalties to the religious community
increased after the religious strife of 1860, to the extent
that today religion permeates every aspect of the individual's
life. Religion determines his political and social
orientations. As Khalaf puts it, "religious sentiments,
particularly after the decline in feudalism, came to assume
a more intense role in maintaining identity and communal
The division between the two communities is compounded
by divisions within each community where keen rivalry and
competition are evident, and by regional and family divisions
which serve to exacerbate the religious cleavages. As a
result, the country consists of many "nations", separate
groups that feel solidarity, share common values and a common
history. A strong Lebanese identity is lacking, except
perhaps for the Maronites who feel the strongest attachment
to the Lebanese state, identified albeit in Maronite terms.
Shils speaks of the "...incivility of many members of the
elite, the members of the great families, the zuama who
dominate and speak for the primordial and religious
Within the religious groups, then, the central actors
are the traditionally prominent religious families. In
essence, political power is still based on traditional
family influence. Certain families are associated with
specific regions and religions, as the Maronite Shihabs and
Khourys of Mount Lebanon, the Jumblatts of the Shouf,
Karamis of Tripoli, Salams and Yafis of Beirut and the
Franjiehs of Zghorta. By being born into a politically
prominent family, it is highly likely that that power will
be passed on. "Over the entire span of 50 years of
parliamentary life, only 359 deputies representing 210
families, have won parliamentary seats. This amounts to not
more than eight percent of the total number of families in
Lebanon." Of the 359, over 300 have inherited their seat.
Table III reflects this trend.
NUMBER OF DEPUTIES WHO SERVED IN
PARLIAMENTS FIVE OR MORE TIMES: 1926-1972
No. of times in Parliament No. of Deputies
SOURCE: Baaklini, op. cit., p. 172.
Lebanon's families have helped shape its history. It may be
recalled that the prominent feudal families of the Mutasarrifiyah
were well represented in the administration of the Reglement
Organique following the abolition of feudalism. During
Daud Pasha's rule 16 feudal leaders were given top posts
and this continued into this century. Because of the
personal factor, politics in Lobanon is to a great extent
competition between and within religious sects. Alliances
between families, whenever they took place, were often made
more out of a desire to oppose a certain leader, than out of
ideological or programmatic considerations. In addition,
elections are seen as mainly a contest or a continuance of
conflict between families, with ideology rarely playing a
The influence of the family and religion on the
political nature of the country cannot be underestimated.
As one writer observes, ". the vigor with which the religious
and familial bases of organization continue to affect
political conduct and coalesce political sentiment remains
singularly evident." In sum, the family is important for
an understanding of the political process, partly because of
its role as the main socializing agent--it being the central
social unit--and partly because it represents a means through
which the individual attains political power, and thus
perpetuating that family's prominence. It has traditionally
been an important aspect of the social and political order.
It is again closely connected to a discussion of the
recruitment pattern and the overall patron-client network.
Closely linked to the religious actors are the country's
political parties, which are in essence no more than
groupings led by the leaders of prominent religious
families. Lebanon's political parties do not fall into
any recognizable category. They are parties based on
religion, and the country "offers a very typical and most
complicated example of this." They are similar to Western
parties in that they seek to exercise political power and
share in the decision-making process, but beyond that there
is little similarity. Apter writes:
.we recognize that political parties
offer political choices. They provide
a peaceful selection of alternative
governments. They offer differences in
views and policy priorities. Through
parties, issues can be identified and
preferences indicated by the electorate.10
Clearly this does not apply well to the Lebanese case. The
nature of the party system in Lebanon cannot be divorced
from the intimate link between politics and the influence of
religion and the family that the country exhibits. Political
parties strengthen confessional ties, reflecting the country's
divided culture. Perhaps the concept of "personalismo" is
appropriate in this context. George Blanksten defines this
as the "tendency of the politically active sectors of the
population to follow or oppose a leader for personal,
individual, and family reasons rather than because of the
influence of a political idea, party or program.
Political parties in Lebanon have only an indirect
influence on policy-making. No party has ever won a significant
number of seats (Table IV). In 1960, for example, when the
parties increased their efforts to win more parliamentary
seats, several parties between them could muster no more than
a third of the seats.
PARLIAMENTARY MEMBERSHIP OF
PARTIES IN LEBANON: 1951-1972
Party 1951 1957 1960 1964 1968 1972
Syrian Social 1
Party) 2 3 4 4 3 2
Najjada 1 1
Party 3 3 6 6 5 4
Movement 1 1 1
Kataeb 3 1 6 4 9 7
National Bloc 2 4 6 2 5 3
National Liberals Party Nonexistent 4-5 6 8 7
Democratic Party 1
Total 10 12 27-8 23 36 30
in Chamber 77 66 99 99 99 99
Per cent Members
in political parties 13% 18% 35% 28% 36% 30%
Baaklini, op. cit., p. 181.
SOURCE: Adapted from
The National Pact
The National Pact, agreed upon by the leaders of
Lebanon's two major communities, established confessionalism
as the basis for the new state. The arrangement was a
reflection of the culturally divided society, a modus
vivendi which appeared to be the most viable and practical
one for the newly-independent country. Confessionalism was
to underlie the entire political process, with the rivalry
of the different sects carried out within this framework.
The system is structured in such a way that recognizes
the preponderance of the Christian community. (Table V)
A ratio of six to five, in the Christians' favor, was to
extend to all governmental and administrative posts, as well
as to Parliament. The system was democratic in the sense that
it accorded representation to all minorities, a system in
which participation by the society's subgroups was guaranteed.
The system" . serves as an adjustment mechanism which
brings particularistic elements of society together into a
working relationship without overriding their interests or
submerging their identitities."12 The country's strength
depended on acceptance by all the communities, with stability
resting on the maintenance of a careful balance between the
country's main religious groups,and this has been partly
accomplished through the representative institutions which
are seen as "an essential condition of its stability, not a
ESTIMATED POPULATION OF LEBANON IN 1956
Greek Orthodox 149,000
Greek Catholics 91,000
Armenian Orthodox 64,000
Armenian Catholics 15,000
Syrian Catholics 6,000
Syrian Orthodox 5,000
SOURCE: Adapted from Sir Reader Bullard (ed.),
The Middle East: A Political and
Economic Survey (London: Oxford University
Press, 1958), p. 453. The figures are
from the Economic Research Institute of
of the American University of Beirut, and
are based partly on official sources.
The National Pact then, representing Lebanon's politics
of accommodation,was an explicit recognition of the division
of the country into distinct religious groups. As Kerr puts
it, "Lebanese democracy is the distribution of guarantees to
the recognized groups co-existing in the country of the means
to defend their minimum interests". The government, it
is important to note, was not meant to play a major role and
pursue long-term goals. Rather, it was meant to reflect the
division of the society and attempt to regulate and resolve
conflict. In times of conflict or crisis, polarization tended
to replace flexibility and compromise with intransigence.
The crises of 1958 and 1975 are clear examples of this.
The Pact implicitly contained guidelines for the nation's
foreign policy as it was felt, with reason, that there would
exist a close connection between foreign and domestic policy.
Any foreign policy decision had to have the approval of the
major groups. Thus, for the economic and political well-being
of the country, and to prevent polarization of the communities,
it was important for Lebanon to maintain friendly relations
with both the Arab world and the West. It has been evident
in the post-war years that disruption of these links, especially
to the Arab states, had had adverse political and economic
effects on the system. Since the frames of reference lie
in the Arab world and the West for the Moslems and Christians
respectively, a delicate balance, or in a word neutrality,
was necessary. Here, as with domestic policy, the government
to be effective had to continually balance the different
interests. Conversely, the government's effectiveness is
a reflection of the cooperation of local leaders and their
willingness to compromise and reach mutually beneficial
agreements. To help us better understand the principles of
consociational democracy outlined by Lijphart, we need to
survey the nature and operation of the country's institutions
and relate them then to the system of patronage in Lebanon.
The Formal Institutions
Officially, the state of Lebanon is a Parliamentary
Republic divided into five provinces or governerates:
the Bekaa, North Lebanon, South Lebanon, Beirut and Mount
Lebanon. Lebanon's unicameral legislature allows for
proportional representation of the country's religious communities.
Table VI shows the sectarian distribution of seats according
to sect and district.
The electoral system in Lebanon allots a specific
number of seats for each religious sect. On the list system,
a candidate has to be able to gain the support of voters
from different religious communities.15 Mixed areas lead to
competing lists made up of candidates from the sects who are
represented by seats in that area. This system encourages
cooperation and moderation.
Since electoral success depends on
compromise, the ability to join a list
and, most importantly, the ability to
maneuvre politically without losing
one's political base, candidates in
mixed districts who belong to different
sects find that the best strategy is to6
avoid capitalizing on sectarian issues.
Parliament does not in any real sense constitute
an opposition. In theory, Parliament has the right to
dismiss a cabinet, though it has never done so. The legis-
lature is elected every four years, and it in turn elects
a President by a two-thirds majority for a term of six
years. Parliamentary members attempt to cultivate the good-
will of the President, as they aspire to Cabinet positions
and hope also for support during elections. As a policy-
making body, Parliament is not highly regarded, being seen
as "merely a formal setting for clashes between the
communities"17 and the "redoubt of the traditional past."18
As indicated by Table VII Parliament accords representation
to the country's sects on a ratio of six Christians to
five Moslems, provided for in the National Pact.
DISTRICTS AND SECTARIAN DISTRIBUTION SINCE 1960
Sect District Sectarian Distribution Total No.
of seats of seats
SOURCE: Abdo Baaklini, op. cit., p. 146.
M--Maronite; GO--Greek-Orthodox; GC--Greek Catholics;
S--Sunni; SH--Shiite; D--Druze; AO--Armenian Orthodox;
AC--Armenian Catholic; Mi--Minority; P--Protestant
DISTRIBUTION OF PARLIAMENTARY SEATS BY SECTS
Sect 1947 1951 1953 1957 1960-72
Christians Maronite 18 23 13 20 30
Greek 6 8 5 7 11
Greek 3 5 3 4 6
Armenian 2 3 2 3 4
Minorities 1 3 1 2 3
Moslems Sunni 11 16 9 14 20
Shiite 10 14 8 12 19
Druze 4 5 3 4 6
Total 55 77 44 66 99
SOURCE: Baaklini, op. cit., p. 142
SECTARIAN PATTERNS OF
CABINET STRUCTURES: 1943-1961
6 8 9 10 10 10 14 18
1 2 2 2 2 3 3 4
Maronite 1 2 2 3 3 3 3 4
1 1 2 2 1 1 2 2
1 1 1 1 1 1 2 2
1 1 1 2
1 1 1 1 2 1 2 3
Cabinets 4 11 2 1 2 4 1 1
SOURCE: Ralph Crow, "Religious Sectarianism in
Political System", Journal of Politics
The Cabinet, along with Parliament, is an important
representative body in that it has to reflect both a religious
and regional balance. As Table VIII shows, the size of the
Cabinet varies, depending on circumstances and conditions,
and the particular Premier chosen to form the cabinet.
As can be seen from the table, the Cabinet posts are shared
by the six major sects,with particular ministries going
traditionally to specific sects. The Greek-Orthodox have
usually held the vice-Premiership, the Maronites Education,
Sunnis the Interior, the Druze Defense, and Shiites
Agriculture. The rest alternate--Justice,Public Works,
Finance Health, Economic and Social Affairs. In the
first two decades of independence 35 cabinets were formed,
the majority headed by a handful of Sunnis which included Sami
El Solh, Rashid Karami, Abdullah El Yafi and Saeb Salam.
Because of the nature of the Cabinet and its composition,
stalemates arise when agreements cannot be reached, with
immobilism setting in. Kerr notes that "governments are not
made to create public policy, nor to choose between clear-
cut alternatives entailing the triumph of one set of demands
over another, but to reflect and adjust competing interests
of the various groups. Long-term planning becomes difficult
when policy is not made on a secular, rational basis. In
spite of this, the cabinet has succeeded in bringing about
bureaucratic reforms. Overall, though, the diverse nature
of the cabinet leads to particularistic orientations.
". .. ministers disregard cabinet harmony and collective
responsibility to appeal to their own confessional, regional,
economic, ideological, or personal interests and followers".22
Lebanon's executive power is vested in the Maronite
President, who is elected by Parliament for a six-year term
(renewable after an interim of six years). The President's
powers are pervasive, not unlike those of the emirs of
historical Lebanon, the Ottoman governors and the more
recent French High Commissioners. The President appoints a
Sunni Prime Minister who forms a cabinet to be approved by
the President. He can also dismiss ministers, dissolve
Parliament, has the power of veto and can rule by decree.23
The President often plays the role of arbitrator, and less of
a partisan role. Since he cannot be immediately re-elected
to the Presidency, he is not subservient to the Chamber and
can act independently of it. The extensive powers given him
by the Constitution give the impression of a very powerful
chief executive. However, approval of policy by the Premier
and Cabinet is necessary, and cooperation with the Chamber
with regard to policy is needed. As arbiter the President
must maintain a confessional balance.
Political Clientelism: "Real" Actors and Informal Rules
Central to an understanding of Lebanese politics and more
specifically the operation and functioning of the state's
institutions is a discussion of patron-client relationships.
These relationships meshed closely with the operation of
governmental institutions in Lebanon. The country's patrons
--the zuama(sg. zaim)--constitute the bulk of the country's
political elite. Patronage has survived the last two
centuries in Lebanon, differing in nature at times due to
changing political and economic circumstances.
The "real" actors are these notables whose authority
is traditional, and who belong to traditionally prominent
families.24 In short, as a political actor the zaim
is central. "Because of his wealth or family prestige and
chiefly because of the traditional patriarchal structure of
Lebanese society, the zaim remains one of the most influential
actors in the political process.25 Hottinger defines this
type of leader thus:
A zaim in the specifically Lebanese and
contemporary sense is a political leader
who possesses the support of a locally
circumscribed community and who
retains this support by fostering the
interests of as many2gs possible from
among his clientele.
With regard to recruitment, factors as family, wealth and
religion are important determinants of political opportunity,
with competition taking place within, rather than between,
the different communities. The electoral system is such
that it aids the continued vigor of the zuama. Consisting of
small electoral units the system allows the zaim much
freedom in maintaining his power and influence over local
communities. Election to Parliament depends to a large extent
on getting on a list headed by a prominent zaim, who in fact