Consensus versus competition in the formation of a Lebanese Government.

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In support of Minister Jumblatt’s efforts to coalesce the different Lebanese factions into agreeing on a formula to govern the country, I feel that it is important to engage in pro-active steps towards continuing the process to form a government of national representation.

The reasons for pushing for the formation of a legitimate government are obvious though presently being dismissed for the profit of political polemics.

Suffice to say that a “de facto” government which would not secure the confidence of parliament and which would bring about the resignation of more than half the representation of the country is a dangerous proposal since, in the absence of balanced opposition, it would usher in a period of uncontrolled reforms by one group only. This is why such an attempt has also been referred to as a “coup” and unconstitutional.

However, getting back to the only viable solution to save the country today which is the formation of government of national unity, if this is going to happen, it has become important to examine the form of the dialogue before we can even address the content.

So far, the process has been entirely reactive with one side reacting to the other, which has led nowhere. Therefore we need to move away from a situation of reactivity and create the proper conditions for affirmative action. In order to do this, we have to conceive of ways of elevating the level of the dialogue and the quality of interaction.

The first step in that direction is a willingness to engage. This threshold was crossed the minute that the modified 8-8-8 formula was accepted by all parties as a possible blueprint for a government.

The second step consisting of the distribution of power has been the source of the ensuing problems and the inability to reach any agreement.

For this level to work there has to be trust. However in the absence of trust there has to be a constitutional reference. Unfortunately the constitution is deliberately vague and has been amended so many times that it has also lost its preemptory powers.

Therefore, the question becomes how do you move from mistrust to consensus building? You do this by choosing to move beyond the elements that divide towards focusing on the elements that unite.

The main reason to do this is that the greater good must at some point supersede the egoistic good of the different parties concerned. The greater good in this case is not the generic concept of Lebanon but instead the greater good is the specific welfare and the safety of all Lebanese.

In order to move this dialogue forward for the formation of a new government some general rules must apply, namely:

  •  Ministries are National Institutions above partisan divides.
  • No man is greater than the institution he serves.
  • Power sharing must be understood as cooperation and not competition.
  • Dialogue should be geared towards consensus not discord.

A possible solution is that our “Leaders” should personally sit down all together at a round table and not be allowed to leave the room until an agreement is reached. A neutral and safe ground should be found were this meeting can take place. They must agree on a set of priorities for the country before they decide who gets what, because the present situation calls for altruism and sacrifice.

We are confronting the biggest political vacuum we have faced and in the present violent context surrounding us and contaminating us, this can only lead to disaster and chaos before long. As a Lebanese I will continue to say we want our country back and I will urge those in power for once to see how their fates are in fact all inter-connected.”

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