Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Saad Hariri triumphs in Beirut vote

A couple of months ago, Saad Hariri, the son of assassinated former Primer minister Rafik Hariri, was known only as a young highly successful businessman in Saudi Arabia, taking care of the empire built by his father. Today, he is on the verge of becoming next Lebanon’s prime minister, nothing less! The bloc of candidates he led won all City of Beirut’s seats in the first elections held in Lebanon after Syrian troops left the country.
As this article points out, Saad Hariri’s list was a strong one. By including among others such prominent forces as Hezbollah and some Christian parties, the chances of losing were quite slim. This kind of coalition built around a wide spectrum of political and ethnical parties shows that this country is much ahead in the Arab world as far as the game of politics and democracy is concerned. The war that devastated the country is certainty one of the reasons for that. Less flattering though, is the fact that Hariri’s campaign rhetoric was mainly an emotional one, being heavily associated with his father “martyrdom”. Worse, the fact that Saad Hariri is keen in becoming the prime minister, although he is a novice in politics, without any experience whatsoever, and the fact that the nation does not seem to oppose what would be an amazing shift in Saad’s career, shows, in my opinion, the fragility of Lebanon’s democracy.

2 comments:

Karim said...

Jallal,

"Worse, the fact that Saad Hariri is keen in becoming the prime minister, although he is a novice in politics, without any experience whatsoever, and the fact that the nation does not seem to oppose what would be an amazing shift in Saad’s career, shows, in my opinion, the fragility of Lebanon’s democracy."

These kinds of shifts have happened in the past: Benazir Bhutto for example came to power after her father was murdered, Corazon Aquino in Philippines, after having been an ordinary housewife, was elected prime minister in the late 80's after her husband was killed, and more recently the widow of Rajiv Ghandi in India led her slain husband's party to electoral victory without being a veteran politician herself. What one has to realize is that Lebanon is neither an old democracy, nor a stable country. Under normal circumstances, Saad would probably not have so easily accessed to power. In a country torn by decades of wars and sectarian struggles, Saad benefits from the legacy of his father, which is one of dialogue and respect of all of Lebanon's diverse communities. Lebanon's political elite is in fact no less corrupt than in any other arab state, and the Hariri family epitomizes one of the rare focal points on which most lebanese can agree today.

ps Great article from LA Times! Thanks!

Jallal said...

Of course, there are many similar stories of this kind that happened in the past. Hmm, I didn’t know the story of this Corazon Aquino!

The point is, all these shifts mirror the fragility of democracies they took place in. In this regard, it is quite revealing that in India, which has a better democratic system compared to the others, the society was reluctant to Rajiv Ghandi’s widow aspiration to become prime minister (due to its origin too, though). Later on, she finally ruled out the idea.