Lebanon News

Closer look at parliamentary election hopefuls

Activists protest a possible extension of Parliaments mandate in Riad al Solh Square in Downtown Beirut on Sept. 11. (The Daily StarHasan Shaaban)

BEIRUT: The deadline for submitting candidacies for parliamentary elections, scheduled for November, expired Tuesday at midnight. The Interior Ministry announced that the final number of candidates was 511, even though another extension of Parliament’s term is almost inevitable.

A thorough reading of the list of candidates increasingly proves that qualifications and competence are the least prioritized factors in determining who could become an MP.

While parliaments in other democratic nations are formed to represent the people, Lebanon’s MPs only represent tribes and families.

Out of the current 128 MPs, only nine refrained from submitting their candidacies again.

Of the 119 MPs of various political parties who are running again, some chose to set a precedent by joining the race with their sons, brothers or other relatives.

The same applies to former MPs who decided to give it another try this time.

In Western Bekaa, former MP Abdel-Rahim Mrad is running with his son. Also among the candidates in the district is Walid Maalouli, the son of former MP Michel Maalouli.

In Metn, former lawmaker Emile Lahoud, the son of the former president of the same name, and his cousin Nasri Lahoud have both filed their papers.

Former MP Mansour al-Bon is running with his wife in Kesrouan.

In Bsharri, participating in elections are MP Strida Geagea and two of her relatives, while in Baabda, Tracy Chamoun, the daughter of assassinated National Liberal Party leader Dany Chamoun, has joined the ranks of the hopefuls.

In the district of Jezzine, former MP Samir Azar and his son are running. Meanwhile, Micheline Maouchi decided to run for the seat of her late husband, lawmaker Michel Helou.

In Zahle, MP Nicholas Fattoush and his brother are among the candidates that also include Amani Mita, the daughter of late lawmaker Ali Mita.

In the district of Marjayoun-Hasbaya, Fadi Abu Jamra, the son of former Deputy-premier Issam Abu Jamra, has submitted his candidacy.

Refraining from running for elections this time are MPs Salim Salhab, Edgar Maalouf, Mouein Merhebi, Farid Makari, Elie Keyrouz, Dory Chamoun, Joseph Maalouf, Arthur Nazarian and Sleiman Franjieh.

However, Chamoun and Franjieh’s sons are runing for their seats, while Maalouf’s nephew also filed his candidacy.

Some MPs do not have to worry about the competition, as they have already won the polls unchallenged.

The Interior Ministry announced that Speaker Nabih Berri and MPs Ali Osseiran, Michel Musa, Yassin Jaber, Abdel-Latif Zein, Ali Bazzi, Hasan Fadlallah, Ayoub Hmayed and Nehme Tohme won unopposed.

If the list of candidates indicates anything, it is that most lawmakers do not take their responsibilities seriously or care about handling the tasks that they were elected by the people to tackle.

Most of the MPs are running again despite a very low level of productivity over the past six years. Many barely showed up for sessions and some live outside the country.

What makes the image gloomier is the total silence and inaction of civil society groups in the face of such an unchanging reality.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on September 18, 2014, on page 3.

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