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World Citizen: Lebanon Election a Middle East Barometer

Thursday, May 28, 2009

On June 7, voters in tiny Lebanon will go to the polls. On the surface, the result of the parliamentary elections might seem to make almost no difference at all. But in the peculiar Middle East laboratory that is Lebanon, the outcome of the vote will represent a barometric reading for the entire region. In the end, it may ultimately have serious repercussions that reach beyond the byzantine mechanics of Lebanese politics.

Some might consider the elections inconsequential, because the two main factions of Lebanese politics have essentially agreed to grant each other veto power over major decisions. The outcome of the upcoming voting will not change that. The agreement -- reached in Doha, Qatar last year -- brought Beirut out of political paralysis, as the bitter rivals grudgingly agreed to form a "unity government." This unity, between "partners" that despise one another, is technically set to continue even after voters choose a new parliament. ...

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