With Amal and Hizballah reaffirming their presence in their districts and Sulayman Franjiyah reconsolidating his fiefdom in Zgharta, the biggest losers in these elections have been the Free Patriotic Movement. Though they still represent a considerable chunk of the Christians, the shock of the decline since 2005 against all expectations and predictions is still reverberating.
Critiques of “what went wrong” abound, and Khalid Saghiyah rises to the occassion again with a sharp one. He criticizes ongoing attempts to justify the electoral loss, including the appeal to the popular vote, stressing instead the need for introspection on several levels: the sectarian discourse, the divisive electoral law, and the “glorious day” (May 7th, 2008).
But he also nails down other blunders:
- Hizballah’s resignation when it comes to its Sunni allies, who have been left to their own devices. Hizballah “bet instead on the Christian horse” leaving the Sunnis feeling besieged.
- The inability to transform the memorandum of understanding from an “alliance” into an “understanding” over common political and national grounds, leaving a glaring gap between “the public” of Hizballah and that of the Free Patriotic Movement.
- The “anthem against corruption” remained sensational and vague. He points out that while Aoun’s discourse on corruption might “tickle the feelings” of the middle class, it is out of tune with the popular classes that are dependent on the channels of corruption and clientalism. I think this observation can also be used to critique the approach of idealist, typically middle class alternatives for governance — such as secularization, centralization, etc — which ignore the realities on the ground, be those engendered by choice or lack of it.
- The opposition’s inability to concretize its slogan of “building the strong, capable, and just state.” In fact, when it came to ministerial appointments, the selection of electoral candidates, and the paucity of their political programs, the opposition repeated the mistakes of the governmental majority.