Thursday, 11 June 2009

Elections: What the UK bosses think

The Economist magazine catches the mood of relief in the west over the elections:

The coalition that has struggled to govern Lebanon since 2005 surprised even many of its followers as it emerged from a fiercely contested general election with an undented parliamentary majority.

Its win cheered the Western powers that support the March 14 alliance led by Saad Harir...

Yet March 14’s capture of 71 out of 128 parliamentary seats also underlined the flaws in Lebanon’s cumbersome democracy ... Taking advantage of the imbalance between the size of the constituencies and the number of their MPs, the alliance gained a critical advantage from the massive turnout by Sunni voters in Christian districts, reflecting both demographic shifts and the financial clout of the Sunni political machine.

The opposition’s losses were mostly suffered by independent politicians allied to them. Hizbullah, which in the past has shied away from a deep exposure to what it calls “dirty” electoral politics, ran only 11 candidates, all of whom won handily.

The March 14 victory is unlikely to inspire any early settlement of the feuds that have bedevilled its politics. But for the time being compromise is in the air.

This is helped by the warmer winds blowing from Barack Obama’s America, and the rise in Iran, engaged in an election of its own, of powerful currents arguing for accommodation with the West.

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