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Reception, Lebanese parliamentary elections, political money, Lebanon, Lebanese democracy

The reception of a delegation from the American Democratic National Institute to monitor the elections

Sayyed Fadlullah said: The elections will not make major changes to the Lebanese situation. We are bound by a national unity government that will prevent the temple from falling on the heads of all parties

His Eminence, the Religious Authority Sayyed Muhammad Hussein Fadlullah, received a delegation from the American Democratic National Institute to monitor the elections. The delegation included: Igay Batil, and Margarita Ramos Alfs, and discussed with the Sayyed various issues such as the legal issues concerning the coming elections, the impartiality of the state, and the future of these elections aside from problems and foreign interferences.

At the beginning of the meeting, Sayyed Fadlullah welcomed the delegation, saying that we welcome whoever comes to enhance the stability in the societies, namely those suffering from political, security or economic problems. We believe in cooperation between the people as a means to resolve their various problems, and in order for the oppressed people to find tranquility in political, security, and civil peace. Besides, God wanted us to encourage the movement of life under humanitarian values and the respect of human rights. We appreciate your initiative to monitor the elections in Lebanon, which – if were conducted in accordance with the law and the civilized aspirations of the Lebanese people – would represent a quantum leap at the domestic level.

He added: We believe that the person should be free in choosing his representatives, and should not be exposed to financial, political, or security pressures. He should vote according to his personal convictions, so as to give his vote for the candidates that are able to fulfill the interest of the country and the nation. But the problem remains with the Lebanese sectarian regime and the quota system, whose complications and crisis pose the biggest problem to Lebanon. So, our slogan has always been "citizenship", which enables the citizen to gain his rights and fulfill his duties, aside from his sect and confession. Citizenship makes politics a humanitarian movement, rather than an internal tribal game.

He continued: Lebanon's biggest problem, whether regarding the elections or key political occasions, stemmed from two factors:

The first factor is the domestic one, which is nurtured by sectarian and confessional disagreements and hence, each sect acts as though it is an independent entity from the other sects. Each sect has its politicians and clerics and symbols, and prevents other sects from meddling into its affairs, as though it is a separate and independent entity or state. Therefore, each sect has sought to snatch power through its relations with regional or international countries. We have seen how Lebanon differs from all other countries, in terms of the movement of the ambassadors accredited in it, who discuss and interfere in the domestic political situation with all its details, violating their diplomatic powers, customs, and the diplomatic rules. Lebanon, this small country, has turned to a base for international and regional intelligence. Everyone knows that intelligence systems do not only gather information, but create realities as well, and this is what appeared clearly through the serious Israeli espionage networks that point to the size of interference and penetration of the Lebanese domestic reality. This tears down internal stability and foments sedition and makes the country vulnerable to any foreign aggression…

In addition, some countries and sides manipulate the Lebanese people's need for money – in light of their increasing economic and social crisis – to spend hundreds of millions on the voters and political sides. Some American newspapers said that the Lebanese elections are shaping up to be among the most expensive ever held anywhere, seeing the amounts of money spent by foreign countries.

The second factor pertains to the international aspect. Recently, we have started to hear American and European and Arab statements saying that they will withhold their aid to Lebanon if the opposition wins the elections. For example, Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, spoke openly during her recent visit to Lebanon about supporting the moderate camp, in addition to other candid statements made by American and European envoys. However, backstage talks and statements even go beyond this level, as many newspapers published reports attributed to the UNIFIL saying that Israel will not withdraw from the village of Al-Ghajar, if the opposition were to win the elections. There are also other statements that represent flagrant interferences in the elections. As a matter of fact, these factors altogether further complicate the job of the observers of the elections, because while they are monitoring the field situation of the elections, indirect international interferences reach their peak.

The Sayyed further noted: Noticeably, the western administrations are not honest in supporting democratic experiences in our countries. These administrations have refused to recognize the Palestinian elections which they sponsored, because the Hamas Movement won and because the results of these elections were inconsistent with the interests of these administrations. However, they succumbed to the results of the Israeli elections which brought the rightwing movement to power; a government that candidly refuses the two-state solution. We are afraid they will sidetrack the concept of democracy upon dealing with the results of the Lebanese elections. After all, the western administrations have frequently manifested contradictory stands on same issues.

The Sayyed also said that the results of the elections will not make a major change in the Lebanese situation which is bound by consensual democracy, and in which numerical democracy is rejected, namely by the Christians. There are also a number of domestic and external factors that govern the Lebanese situation, including the diversity of the opposition and loyalist groups, and the fact that the country will be run by a national unity government that prevents the temple from falling on the heads of all parties.

Fadlullah said that the Lebanese composition and namely democracy is odd, and is expressed in a bizarre manner even in the elections. For instance, most of the candidates make it to the parliament because they are included on the electoral list of this or that leader. Few are those deputies who do not come upon the choice of any leader. We have seen how the political lords refused to ratify an electoral system that is based on proportional representation – although they keep calling for this system in their statements - because they want to bring the deputies that conform to their interests and positions, and do not want the people to make their choices in a manner that promotes the unity of the country. This unity would be boosted by a balanced and just electoral law. As such, most of the deputies who make it to the parliament are known in advance, and few are those who will compete over few seats.

Responding to a question, the Sayyed said: As a Lebanese citizen and in my capacity as a religious authority, I call on the Lebanese citizens to be free in electing the candidates that serve their country and cause. He reminded of his Fatwa that prohibits the use of political money, both for the spender and earner. This Fatwa prohibits attracting and bribing the voters with money, whether for the opposition or the loyalist party. God Almighty has created the human being as a free entity and He wants him to stay free and abstain from succumbing to anyone at the expense of his dignity and the causes of his nation and country.