Special Report articles

Blank the ballot

Blank the ballot

Reading Time: 3 minutes Parliamentary elections in June 2013 will define both the ruling majority for the next four years and the identity of the future Lebanese president, and the Lebanese electoral law will play a crucial role in this process. But the country’s opposing political camps — the March 8 and March 14 coalitions — are not willing

Linking electoral and economic reform

Reading Time: 3 minutes The approval of the new electoral law based on proportional representation by the Council of Ministers, Lebanon’s cabinet, has the potential to be a historical moment but will most likely be cursed to an early grave. When it comes to a show of hands in Parliament, the Future Movement, the Progressive Socialist Party and the

The vice of vested interest

Reading Time: 4 minutes If there is one thing that has become clear since the debate over electoral reform resurfaced in Lebanon, as it does every four years, it is that the main political forces in the country consider elections to be a form of leverage over the people rather than an opportunity to ensure fair and democratic representation.

No rockin’ around the clock

Reading Time: 3 minutes White Beirut’s website features a video which begins with news reporters announcing the various negative political events of this summer and Gulf country travel warnings for Lebanon. It then rolls on to the song “War, What is it Good For?” and shows photos of people clubbing at White and ends with the statement “This is

Fewer people to play for

Reading Time: 4 minutes Every summer, people flock to the towns and remote areas of Lebanon for the festivals. Local residents anticipate those events for the publicity they bring to the area and for the obvious economic benefits to the restaurants and hotels there. This year, however, was not like the last. Ehdeniyat International Festival, Ehden’s annual summer festival,

Pandering to the penny pinchers

Reading Time: 5 minutes The vitality of Lebanon’s economy is intrinsically linked to the annual influx of tourists laden with their foreign coin. It is little surprise then that the vagaries of this temperamental sector play a large role in determining the national mood. And yet while income from the tourism trade roughly constitutes a fifth to a third

Where did everyone go?

Reading Time: 5 minutes With the electricity more off than on, it has been a hot, yet so far quiet summer. No waves of swaying black abayas in ABC and while Beirut’s hotels would normally be fully booked, a room these days is easy to find, often against bargain prices. A quick Internet search shows that a five-star Saturday

The LAF budget – closed ranks

Reading Time: 4 minutes “Whenever you have military contracting, there is bound to be some money creamed off the top,” according to Yezid Sayigh, senior associate at the Carnegie Middle East Center. How much is creamed off in Lebanon, however, is difficult to establish. The Lebanese defense budget is one of the most opaque budgets in the world, being