Graduate School
Welkom by Universiteit Stellenbosch

Dr Salome Teuteberg

Home country: South Africa

PANGeA partner: Stellenbosch University

Year of enrolment: 2012

Graduation date: March 2015

Department:  Political Science

Supervisor: Prof Pierre du Toit

Dissertation title: The endurance of Lebanese consociational democracy


Abstract: The small Middle Eastern country of Lebanon was once recognised as the exemplar of power-sharing democracy, upholding a system that promoted peace and coexistence between Christians and Muslims. Power was divided proportionally amongst confessional groups, granting each sect power according to their demographic proportion. This division of power was aimed at promoting national unity, but changes in the Lebanese demography made the division undemocratic, and the constitution no longer accurately represented Lebanese society. The 1926 constitution, supplemented by the National Pact in 1943, which had upheld this division of power, baulked under the pressure of a 15-year civil war, to the surprise of many scholars who had praised the Lebanese system. While many place the blame on the outside influences, it has been determined that the problem lay within the system. The static characteristic of the system did not sufficiently provide for changing demographics, or a change in interest groups. The problem lay in the fixed nature of the proportionality of the consociational system. The prolonged civil war, sometimes referred to as a proxy war between Israel and Syria, came to an end with the signing of the Taif Accord in 1990. Though none were satisfied with its provision, the Accord brought an end to the escalating violence. The Accord paved the way for the rebuilding of state institutions, enabling parliamentary elections in 1992 and 1996; general municipal elections in 1998; the peaceful transfer of power between presidents; as well as the reconstruction of the Lebanese economy. The main objective of this study of Lebanon is to determine whether the amended Lebanese constitution of 1990 adheres to the principles provided in the theoretical framework regarding constitutional endurance. This study is in the form of a qualitative case study. It aims to describe, at length, and to form an in-depth understanding of the actors and events leading up to the Taif Accord, as well as the formation and implementation thereof. The research questions include: What factors relating to flexibility, specificity and inclusion contributed to the breakdown of the 1943 National Pact?; What steps were taken leading to the Taif Accord?; and Have the changes made in the Lebanese constitution by means of the 1990 Taif Accord facilitated the endurance of the constitution? The study aims to contribute through its application of the theoretical framework to a particular case study, namely that of Lebanon. By 'testing' this theoretical framework, this study also provides an in-depth analysis of the happenings in Lebanon over the past 80 years. It remains in question whether the Taif Accord‟s amendments to the constitution have sufficiently provided for the resilience of thereof. Twenty years of relative peace have not convinced Lebanese citizens of the legitimacy and efficacy of the Accord. While the over-centralisation of power within the system was curbed by shifting power away from the president to a cabinet equally divided between Christian and Muslims, the Accord failed to effectively deal with the preset nature of the proportionality within the system. 20 years of relative peace may be enough to ensure the endurance of the constitution, but regional factors as well as the presence of radicalised groups play an important role in destabilising the fragile balance within the country. Should the Lebanese state continue to be inclusive and flexible in the wake of a constantly changing environment, it may endure. However, the tumultuous nature of the region in which Lebanon finds itself may eventually provide external shocks that the Lebanese system fails to weather. The hope is that the system builds on sound, systemic foundations in order to be able to endure regional conflict.

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