|Speaker of the Parliament||Nabih Berri, Amal Movement
since May 4, 2006
|Lebanese Parliament, Beirut, Lebanon|
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For the current list of Parliamentarians see Members of the 2009-2013 Lebanese Parliament
The Parliament of Lebanon (known as Le Parlement in Lebanon) is the Lebanese national legislature. It is elected to a four-year term by universal adult suffrage in multi-member constituencies, apportioned among Lebanon's diverse Christian and Muslim denominations. Its major functions are to elect the President of the republic, to approve the government (although appointed by the President, the Prime Minister, along with the Cabinet, must retain the confidence of a majority in the Parliament), and to approve laws and expenditure.
The Parliament building, was built in 1933 according to Armenian architect Mardiros Altounian's designs who was a Beaux-Arts architect. The building has an imposing symmetrical structure with an oriental revivalist style articulating historical regional references with neo-Mamluk overtones.
A unique feature of the Lebanese system is the principle of "confessional distribution": each religious community has an allotted number of deputies in the Parliament. In elections held between 1932 and 1972 (the last till after the Lebanese Civil War), seats were apportioned between Christians and Muslims in a 6:5 ratio, with various denominations of the two faiths allocated representation roughly proportional to their size. By the 1960s, Muslims had become openly dissatisfied with this system, aware that their own higher birthrate and the higher emigration rate among Christians had by this time almost certainly produced a Muslim majority, which the parliamentary distribution did not reflect. Christian politicians were unwilling to abolish or alter the system, however, and it was one of the factors in the 1975–1990 civil war. The Taif Agreement of 1989, which ended the civil war, reapportioned the Parliament to provide for equal representation of Christians and Muslims, with each electing 64 of the 128 deputies.
Although distributed confessionally, all members, regardless of their religious faith, are elected by universal suffrage, forcing politicians to seek support from outside of their own religious communities, unless their co-religionists overwhelmingly dominate their particular constituency.
The changes stipulated by the Taif Agreement are set out in the table below*:
|Confession||Before Taif||After Taif|
|Allocation of seats in the 2009 election for the Parliament of Lebanon (Majlis an-Nuwwab)||Total||Maronites||Shi'a||Sunni||Greek Orthodox||Druze||Armenian||Greek Catholic||Alawite||Protestant||Other Christians|
|Beirut 19||Beirut 1||5||1||-||-||1||-||2||1||-||-||-|
|Mount Lebanon 35||Jbeil||3||2||1||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|North Lebanon 28||Akkar||7||1||-||3||2||-||-||-||1||-||-|
|Dinniyeh & Minieh||3||-||-||3||-||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|South Lebanon 23||Saida||2||-||-||2||-||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Hasbaya & Marjeyoun||5||-||2||1||1||1||-||-||-||-||-|
Numerous political parties exist in Lebanon. Many parties are little more than ad-hoc electoral lists, formed by negotiation among influential local figures representing the various confessional communities; these lists usually function only for the purpose of the election, and do not form identifiable groupings in the parliament subsequently. Other parties are personality-based, often comprising followers of a present or past political leader or warlord. Few parties are based, in practice, on any particular ideology, although in theory most claim to be. No single party has ever won more than 12.5 percent of the total number of seats in the Parliament, and until 2005 no coalition ever won more than a third of the total. The general election held in 2005, however, resulted in a clear majority (72 seats out of 128) being won by the alliance led by Saad Hariri (son of murdered former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri); half of these were held by Hariri's own Current for the Future.
Additionally, Hezbollah won 14 seats .
The Speaker of the Parliament, who by custom must be a Shi'a Muslim, is now elected to a four-year term. Prior to the Taif Agreement, he was elected to a two-year term. He forms part of a "troika" together with the President (required to be a Maronite Christian) and the Prime Minister (a Sunni Muslim). The privileges of the Speaker are unusually powerful, relative to other democratic systems. The current speaker is the leader of the Amal Party, Nabih Berri.
The system of multi-member constituencies has been criticized over the years by many politicians, who claim that it is easy for the government to gerrymander the boundaries. The Baabda-Aley constituency, established for the 2000 election, is a case in point: the predominantly Druze area of Aley (in the east of Beirut) were combined, in a single constituency, with the predominantly Christian area of Baabda. The same thing happens in the South, meaning that although several seats within the constituency are allocated to Christians, they have to appeal to an electorate which is predominantly Muslim. Many opposition politicians, mostly Christians, have claimed that the constituency boundaries were extensively gerrymandered in the elections of 1992, 1996, and 2000 to produce a pro-Syrian majority. There have also been calls for the creation of a single, country-wide constituency. Unless and until the myriad religious and political factions can agree on an alternative electoral system, the controversy is unlikely to be resolved, however, there is a chance that the new formed parliament could turn the system into a House of Lords and House of Pariament, aboloshing the Ta'ef Accord; however this seems unlikely, as the Western-backed ruling majority do not see the Doha Accord (an agreement by past Lebanese rivals to end the 2006-2008 crisis) to be essential or positive, as it is benefitial for the opposition in giving them veto power.
|March 14 Alliance||61||Movement of the Future (Tayyar Al Mustaqbal)||28|
|March 14 Independents||11|
|Lebanese Forces (al-Quwāt al-Lubnāniyya)||8|
|Kataeb Party (Hizb al-Kataeb)||5|
|Islamic Group (Jamaa al-Islamiya)||1|
|Democratic Left Movement (ĥarakatu-l-yasāri-d-dimuqrātī)||1|
|National Liberal Party (Hizbu-l-waTaniyyīni-l-aHrār)||1|
|March 8 Alliance||57||Free Patriotic Movement (Tayyar Al-Watani Al-Horr)||18 |
|Amal Movement (Harakat Amal)||13|
|Lebanese Democratic Party (Hizb al-democraty al-lubnany)||3|
|Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Tashnag)||2|
|Syrian Social Nationalist Party (al-Hizb al-Qawmi al-souri al ijtima'i)||2|
|Solidarity Party (Hizb Al-Tadamon Al-Lubnany)||1|
|–||–||Progressive Socialist Party (Hizb al-Taqadummi al-Ishtiraki)||10|
|Note: A month after the elections, the Progressive Socialist Party chose to withdraw from the March 14 Alliance, but remain a part of the Parliamentary Majority.|