Research Student: Mr Abbas Assi
Problems of Democracy in Lebanon since the Syrian Withdrawal in 2005
The Syrian military withdrawal from Lebanon in 2005 is considered a turning point in the modern history of Lebanon. The Syrian military presence that lasted for more than thirty years was forced to withdraw under the pressure of the international community and popular protests against Syrian interference in Lebanon domestic politics.
As a consequence of the Syrian withdrawal, hopes were raised by both political elites and scholars that Lebanon was now able to make the transition to a stable democratic system. However, these hopes did not materialise. Since 2005, Lebanon has been embroiled in sectarian and political conflicts which left negative impacts upon the democratisation process.
This thesis therefore aims to investigate the obstacles to the democratisation process that emerged after the Syrian withdrawal. It will argue that the main obstacle is in Lebanon’s consociational model. The main research question is: How does the existence of the consociational form of governance impede the democratisation process in Lebanon after the Syrian withdrawal in 2005?
To answer this question, this thesis will investigate the role of internal and external factors that emerged due to the existence of this form of governance. Firstly, it will explore the role of the Lebanese sectarian political parties and elites in exacerbating sectarian conflicts and tensions to further their interests, and impeding democratic reform. Secondly, it will investigate the role of the demographic size of the sectarian communities in shaping their political preferences and therefore hampering democratic reform. Thirdly, it will explore the role of foreign intervention in manipulating the sectarian divisions and conflicts to further its interests, with particular focus on the July war between Hezbollah and Israel in 2006.