I may be a little more sanguine that Roger Simon about the results of yesterday’s elections in Lebanon. Noting the 28 percent turnout in Beirut, Roger concludes that “Lebanon seems somewhat less eager for democracy than Iraq” (where turnout five months ago today was roughly twice that).
I see it as a good sign that in the first elections in this diverse nation “since 1990 to be free of Syrian interference” that the opposition swept all the seats. (To be sure, the candidates on opposition leader Saad Hariri’s list were unopposed in nine of hte city’s 19 seats.)
Many Christians boycotted the elections “because of what they consider to be a lack of representation.” The Times (of London) noted that “These elections are being held under a gerrymandered law, introduced under Syrian tutelage, that favoured Damascuss allies in parliament.” Hopefully, if the opposition wins a majority in Parliament as it expected, the new government can create districts which more accurately reflect the tiny nation’s diverse population.
Since turnout was so low, this can’t be considered a resounding victory for democracy, but we can certainly cheer the success of the opposition. Before the Iraqi elections in January, opposition parties didn’t fare all that well in elections in any Middle Eastern nation (save Israel). If the opposition wins a majority when the rest of the seats are decided (to be held over the next three Sundays) and there is a peaceful transition to a new government, then these elections will represent one part of this Mediterranean nation’s progress toward democracy. I agree with Jayson at Polipundit that this is another effect of the Bush Doctrine.
And acknowledge as well the wisdom of Roger Simon’s question, “Whoever said this was going to be easy?”