In Lebanon, Democracy is boring. Politicians debate the same issue over and over again during the campaigns, give the same promises, and end up doing nothing. However, this year is special; it is going to be the filthiest and the most extreme.
Gebran Bassil, the minister of Energy kicked off the first campaigning argument. In a recent speech he gave on Lebanese Wine Day, he called for preserving every inch of Lebanese land. “When we say we don’t want Syrian and Palestinian refugees, it is because they take our place,” Bassil said. A country that “has no raw materials” cannot bear the economic burden that the new refugees bring with them, he added. He asked, “Don’t we not have enough Palestinians in Lebanon to let the rest of the refugee camps come to Lebanon too?”
Following that, Adnan Mansour summoned the Syrian Ambassador Ali Abdel Karim Ali, to discuss the issue of the Syrian refugees. Mansour explained that the meeting aimed at discussing joint works to facilitate the return of the refugees to their country. What Mansour missed upon was that those refugees have actually escaped from that regime that doesn’t distinguish between a man, a woman, a child or an elderly and have killed more than 35,000 Syrians since last year. How is he supposed to return them back?
Racism started off as the theme of the Lebanese elections, the failing government headed by PM Najib Mikati-which has reduced the electricity hours in Lebanon to less than 4 hours a day- is trying to overcome its failure by blaming the refugees and the uprising in Syria.
On the other hand, the 14 March movement is not doing less; they are working hard and joining efforts towards the fall of the Syrian regime, and their success is depends on the collapse of the regime. If they haven’t started their campaigning yet, I am sure that it will be as frustrating and racist as their rivals.
The 2013 elections will be a big trade of blood and lives; it will be a huge debate about Syria and the Syrian regime, people and refugees. It will create a division between the Lebanese and the Syrians, and call for nationalism against the Syrians and the Palestinians blaming all the economic difficulties on them. The consequences can also be something that we cannot afford, civil war that will be directly related to Syria and the two countries will go even in more mess.
Carrying lessons from history, I am almost certain that if either party won, nothing will change. None of them will take care of the economy, change the foreign policy towards Syria, or be able to send refugees back to Syria. They have made the country bipartisan where the citizen has to choose between the better of two evils.
Change will see light only in one case, a possibility of independents making it through to the parliament. If enough independents made it through, they might deny both parties a simple majority in the parliament and will be able to change the direction where the Lebanese political sphere is taking us.
Lebanese citizens must take a wise decision and refrain from voting to either 14 March or 8 March movements, and move along to the independents and offer them full support. Otherwise, we will get stuck at where we are, or maybe move back.
If any of you is interested in contributing to the independents in the 2013 campaign, please visit: http://www.vote2013.org .