Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Electoral Analysis Part II

Now to the numbers, but before that a brief sum up of the situation: Tensions are sky high in the Metn area. I fear that the elections will be wrought with violence and increased divisions between the two main factions (especially on the Christian side)

Meanwhile the army had to reinforce its deployment in the Metn and Beirut to enforce order, so between the North and South deployment and the border patrols with Syria the army is spread very, very thin.

The numbers: I collected these numbers from several sources, and are mostly based on the 2005 election and my own analysis. One of my main sources is Abdo Saad, a political analyst specialized in electoral statistics, but who heavily leans toward Aoun and his allies, and writes in the Al-Akhbar newspaper, which is backed by Hezblollah,. (Check out his articles on the elections here and here).

The main forces:

Kateb (the Phanlages) and their allies (14 March, LF…); Aoun and his supporters ( Baath party and SSNP both syria’s allies. I never thought I would ever say that Aoun is the ally of these two parties that have specialized in following Syria’s orders and killing Lebanese …); The Tachnak ( an Armenian party); and Michel Murr

The numbers:

31000 for the Kateb and their allies

30000 for Aoun and his allies

7000 Tachnak

14000 for Murr

Most analysts agree that Aoun lost some of his support among Christians, putting a number to that loss is pretty difficult. But I feel that one can project a loss of 10% to 20%, and that is for his whole bloc, which includes his core base of support plus many independent and 14 March leaner who choose Aoun, in the last election, as a response for Joumblatt’s alliance with Hezbollah in 2005.Therefore, I will go for a 15% drop in Aoun’s support. And I will add 15% to the 14 March coalitions, especially that the former President Amine Gemayel has more notoriety and support, compared to his son in 2005.

The Armenians are calling to support Aoun, and their mobilization is traditionally high. Even though there are no Armenian candidates running for the seat, and there are many talks of internal disagreement in the Tachnak party, I will consider their support undiminished.

Finally, the Murr bloc. Michel Murr has reluctantly supported Aoun for the upcoming election, and an estimated one fifth (some claim is goes as high as 1/3) of his bloc leans for the Kateb or are indeed ex-Kateb or ex-LF (Geagea supporters) so I will go for a 20% (1/5) drop in his popularity.

Here I must take in account the long alliance shared between Murr and the Kateab that goes back to the 70’s and Murr reluctance in supporting Aoun, especially that he was the one who convinced General Aoun to leave a seat for the son of Amine Gemayel, who assassination a few months ago resulted in this partial election. Therefore, I reckon that he will not fully mobilize his voters and may, and I stress MAY, indirectly support Amine Gemayel. But I will leave these speculations out of my number crunching.

So the final numbers become like this:

35650 +2800(from Murr) for the Kateb and their allies

25500 for Aoun and his allies

7000 Tachnak

11200 for Murr

Total for Amin Gemayel: 38400

Total for Aoun: 43500

The difference is 4900, out of 83500 voters, which translate into a mere 5% difference. In comparison, in 2005 the difference was 28000 or 34%.

So in conclusion, the election will be very, very close. And any further drop of Aoun support or lack of mobilization in Aoun Armenian support, or if (and this is the most probable outcome) Murr chooses to stand by the sideline or refuse to muster all his support, will result in a victory for Amine Gemayel.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Electoral analysis, Part I

Sunday the 5th of august a partial parliamentary election will be held in Beirut and in the Metn district of Mount Lebanon. In a series of upcoming article I will try to offer an in depth analysis of these election and my preliminary predictions.

In the first article I will offer a brief overview of the situation and possible consequence of the electoral battle of the Metn. In the second part I will draw out an in-depth analysis of electoral forces and their orientations in the same district, and then moving on to a similar exercise of the election in Beirut’s second district in the third article.

The electoral race in the Metn will be a titanic struggle between former President Amin Gemayel, the father of the assassinated MP pierre Gemayel, who previously held the seat, and General Aoun, represented by Dr. Kamil Khoury.

This partial election will be an important milestone in the current political crisis in Lebanon. In short, if Aoun’s candidate wins, the General will cement his position as the sole Christian leader in Lebanon and will favorably affect his chance to become the next President, totally annihilating Amin Gemyal and his party’s –the Phalanges-political base and weight.

Meanwhile, if Amin Gemayel wins, this will signal the start of the disintegration of Aoun’s political influence and clout, and the emergence of an alternative Christian leadership, formed by a coalition of the Lebanese Forces (headed by Samir Geagea) the Phalanges (headed by Amin Gemayel and several other Chritian leaderships).

Therefore, the stakes are high, very high. And the battle has an ominous feel about it, that is why several analysts point out that a compromise may be reached and Aoun will withdraw his candidate, leaving the seat for Amin Gemayel.

If this happens, it will be considered a victory for the former President or at least a setback for Aoun. Additionally, the FPM (Free Patriotic Movement- Aoun’s party) base will be severely disenchanted (check out the current mood and expectation of the FPM base on their forums)

Continued in Part II

Monday, July 23, 2007


As always, Aoun brings about an aura of change, of bringing new blood into the Lebanese putrid political life. Alas, it is only a false illusion and that is a shame, and a terrible waist.

Let me elaborate, when he first came back for exile many saw him as a white knight coming to the rescue of our country. We hoped that he will bring positive change and cleanse the ugly political arena. However, he dived right in that smelly pool of mud, and became just another political player.

Many will argue otherwise, but the reality is Aoun is no better than any other politicians. And I believe that he is worse, because he had a change to ignite a new beginning and he failed...miserably...

For example in the first parliamentary election, he allied himself with Syria’s goon and henchmen all over Lebanon (the Syrian National Party, Michel Murr, Hezbollah and even the Baath Party)

His supporters argue that they were forced into such an alliance because the 14 of March coalition refused to give Aoun his proper share. An excuse that is even worse than the deed itself. For his action was an embodiment of all what ills the Lebanese political arena: the lack of principles, blaming others for one deeds and a constant flip flopping to better ones own interests and to hell with everything else. Aoun should have taken the high road, he might have lost a few seats but at least he would have proved his sincerity and moral toughness.

And now once again he had another perfect chance to make a change, by launching a new TV station, called OTV, which he claimed “will be a sincere and an unbiased source of news” However, he appointed Jean Aziz as the director and chief editor of its political program. Jean Aziz is one of the most biased, antagonistic and inaccurate journalist in Lebanon. He writes in Al-Akhbar a very biased newspaper, which excels at the fabrication of rumors and attacks against the 14 of March.

Mon General, once more your actions are a disappointment. Once more you fail in becoming a uniting force, only spreading dissent and divisions. Mon General you are only another one of our cursed, petty politicians who only care for their own narrow interests.

Monday, July 16, 2007

No big surprises!

No big surprises, the St Clous round of talks have neither failed nor succeed, just like the current situation in the country, which in neither outright war nor peace. The current status-quo (if it can be called that) is maintained and the standoff will continue.

At least one can say that the explosion was averted, for a while. On the other hand, the situation in the south is rapidly deteriorating, with another attack on the UNIFIL, which fortunately was casualty free.

So we are back to waiting, for the next round, the next explosion or even the next war.

Meanwhile, NBN have reinstated their presenter who was sacked, in response for making fun -on air!- of the latest 14 March MP that was killed a few weeks ago…) Another proof that the rift between the two Lebanese factions (14 and 8 March0 is almost unbridgeable.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

One year ago...

One year ago, Nassrallah decided to cross the international border between Lebanon and Israel and kidnap two soldiers. Unfortunately, he did not know the consequences of his actions, or so he claimed...

On that day Hezbollah’s supporters were offering Lebanese sweets to passersby, in celebration of the kidnapping. The celebrations did not last long. For at eight PM that day, Israel started a war that lasted for 34 days, bombing and destroying large areas under hezbollah’s control.

After this war a vicious controversy erupted, Hezbollah claimed victory, claiming that Israel failed to accomplish any of its proclaimed results: destroying Hezbollah and returning he soldiers. On the other hand, Israel claimed that Hezbollah’s agenda and capabilities were severely harming because the United Nations peacekeeping forces in the south were bolstered by a factor of ten and Hezbollah main forces retreated behind the UN area of control (south of the litany river). And because of the destruction of most of Hezbollah’s long and medium range missiles and all of their bunkers and reinforcements along the borders, and the death of more than 400 fighters of Nassrallah’s men.

In reality however, nothing changed, both parties lost some and gained some. Meanwhile war drums echo, once more, behind the horizon. I believe that a year ago we only witnessed another battle in a very long war...

Friday, July 06, 2007

A dream...

I have a recurrent dream, in which I am holding my ten years old daughter’s hand, walking… I would point to buildings, like my father did in 1990 and I tell her “this was the Place de l’etoile, there were many restaurants here. I used to love to sit in one of the many cafĂ© around the square and watch people from all over the world pass by”

Walking future I would say “ here we went out on our first date , your mother and me” and then I smiled as I remembered another joyful memory, of my foolish, care free years, when we used to go out in Down Town and get so drunk.

She giggled softly “here? But it is only rubble”

Smiling sadly I nodded, “Yes, only rubble. But mixed with so much passion, with so much joy, and with so much blood”, I whispered.

My legs went on step by bloody step, almost against my will, into that great square. And tears started to flow from my eyes... In the middle stood a white pedestal, empty like the soul of my country, and there my heart broke down.

“Why are you crying dad? What happened here?”

“It is here we had our greatest victory and greatest defeat. It is here that our dream was born, but swiftly killed, when we left we each went our own way and nothing change...”

Leaving the destroyed heart of my beloved Beirut, I drove home, through war torn houses and street filled with rubble.

I drove and drove going nowhere,for this country has no future only a past...

Wednesday, July 04, 2007


In the current lull between a passing storm and the next, the Lebanese are trying, shyly, to return to their old routine. Gemayzeh and Monot (the most in vogue of Beirut’s night life areas), and the big malls are starting to fill again. Yet something is missing…

Maybe it is the absence of the Lebanese famous war-times trademark, our “insouciance”, which stems from our ingrained fatalism. And I think that it is absent because we are still in limbo, between the abyss and a fragile status quo. We don’t know what to do: do we switch to “war mode” or we stay in our “peace mode”.

Although, I no longer have any hope that we will doge the bullet this time, there is always hope. And it is this hope that is making us hold our breath and dream. That maybe against all odds, we will prevail and we will have finally live in a stable, prosperous and peaceful country for the first time since the early 70’s of last century…