There is a certain fascination in Lebanon with world records, whether it’s enough hummus to choke an army or a 20 square meter plate of kibbeh that would cost $140,000 were it an apartment in Ain el-Mreisseh. By November 25, 2014, Lebanon had already broken its own post Civil War record of time spent without a president (the six month void between Emile Lahoud and Michel Suleiman between November 2007 and May 2008). If they’re gunning for another record, there’s still about two more years to kill until Moldova’s 917 days can be bested. This possibility should not be put past lawmakers who have awarded themselves a full second term in office with very little to show for their five years in power thus far. Doing nothing seems to be what the current parliament does best, but continuing down this track of inaction will only make a bad situation worse.
The list of problems policy makers need to address was long 10 years ago. It has only grown longer since. Lebanon may continue trying to close its borders to new Syrian refugees in 2015, but it won’t be able to kick all of those already here out, nor will it be able to provide them — and the communities where they are living — the services they need without serious action from policymakers. This, as the Lebanese love to say, is known. The solutions to Lebanon’s problems are not secrets, but at this point they are not easy fixes either. To take but two paradoxical examples: the country desperately needs massive spending on infrastructure development at the same time as it needs a serious commitment to fiscal discipline. Given that Lebanon’s shortfalls have been known and ignored for so long, it seems hard to believe they will be addressed in 2015, but as so many Lebanese also like to say, even a small development in the policy sphere can have wide ranging multiplier effects, so perhaps there’s hope yet.