Election disruption

In less than two weeks, the Lebanese will head to the polls to choose their representatives for the next four years and in the process show that democracy is alive and kicking in Lebanon.

But as election time draws closer, big wheels are already oiling their top guns, and as elections go the firepower is about to reach a crescendo.

These polls come at a time when Lebanon is surrounded by turmoil, even from overseas, with a political situation that has put the country on edge, with tensions flaring across the board.

Amid this turbulence, campaigners have adopted dangerous practices that if not checked by wise politicians could produce a deadly atmosphere which the country cannot tolerate.

Among such provocations is underscoring sectarian differences, and more so in the usage of such electioneering dogma, which affects the core of the Lebanese penchant and desire to exercise their right to participate in the democratic process.

In recent days we have witnessed unruly mobs, who have often taken the law into their own hands in order to upset the campaigns of rivals through acts of violence, which result in a state of acrimony even within the same towns and villages.

The success of any candidate in the polls is based on conviction and voting in total freedom, free from pressure and antagonism, and uninfluenced by fake news, which doubtless will result in thousands shying away from the voting process.

This would deal elections a serious blow, taking into consideration that the vote law itself has numerous loopholes that have already created dissatisfaction and a sense of injustice as election laws go.

Another toxic practice that some of those hopefuls are trying to exploit is their loyalty and allegiance to foreign powers, primarily Syria, which despite its own troubles has shown extreme interference in the Lebanese election process.

Syria has meddled in every district in order to ensure that it gets enough supporters or proxies elected through the cooperation or collusion of several politicians whose influence has been derived from the regime.

And though they mostly don’t have a chance in hell of winning, they are determined to run in most districts simply to foil the success of others, and if we don’t want to mince words, their efforts aim at Prime Minister Saad Hariri and his supporters.

This kind of situation does not bode well for the welfare of the country and it’s important to immediately reflect on these dangers and hand the reins to sober heads if we are to see the peaceful election process that Lebanon is in dire need of.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on April 24, 2018, on page 1.




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