Whenever pro-Sulta people want to defend their leaders, they resort to the latest election results and the fact that our MPs were elected by the people. Those same people are the ones who blame the rotten sectarian system for everything that’s happening.

We all agree that elections are needed to decide who represents the people, but unless we hold transparent & democratic elections, we will never have credible results, and we haven’t had honest elections since at least 1992. In fact, and according to the 2016 & 2019 Democracy Index, Lebanon is not a democracy but rather a hybrid regime, a nation where consequential irregularities exist in elections regularly preventing it from being fair and free, and is very close to becoming an authoritarian regime.

This is exactly why several protests in the past and the most recent October Revolution have been asking to topple the system, to have a competent government that manages change, sets up a proper electoral law, and prepares for fair & transparent elections. Until then, all talks about this party or that movement representing this sect or that is all total B.S.

So why are people re-electing them if they have the choice not to? The answer is simple: They don’t or at least the big majority doesn’t have much of a choice for many reasons:

– Militias & Armed groups: And no I’m not only talking about Hezbollah here. There are at least five major political players in Lebanon with a considerable mini-army, and people living in the areas they control simply have to vote for them as no one dares run against them and they won’t dare vote against them for many considerations. If those parties are so confident that people like them with or without weapons, let’s proceed to demilitarizing these areas and dismantling all sorts of para-military groups, especially in Beirut and its suburbs.

– Government agencies: We have over 250,000 jobs across all government agencies, including the Lebanese Army, ISF and other security agencies. In recent years, over 15,000 were employed by the state, under illegal classifications such as “provision of services”. If we assume 75% of the 250,000 were employed by politicians, those people and their families are bound to vote for their parties or lose their job.

– Banking & Private sector: Almost every party has his own bank, which finances tens of companies and businesses that employ hundred of thousands of Lebanese. You have fathers and sons employed in the same banks & companies now and given the circumstances in the past 10-15 years and especially in the last couple of years, those will not dare vote against the Zaiims that hired them.

– Expats cannot vote: The low turnout rates that we see in every election are a bit misleading, as every registered voter, whether residing or not, is counted. Unless expats are allowed to vote, or we figure out a way to separate residing from non-residing Lebanese, we will never get exact numbers.

This is just a small sample of how things are in every day life in Lebanon, add to that the TVs & media financed by politicians, the lack of transparency in all electoral booths, the thousands of flagrant violations that go unnoticed, the favoritism that candidates & delegates of traditional political parties get over independents and the list goes on ..

So in other words, no matter what electoral law they come up with, unless we get armed groups out of voting areas, we pass a law that ensures employers cannot exert any political pressure on their employees, we have a foreign & local committee overlooking all aspects of new elections, especially the financial part, we will never have fair & honest elections in Lebanon. It’s really that simple. Any candidate running against the Sulta is at a huge disadvantage, and one small example is what happened with Joumana Haddad.

This is exactly why The Revolution was asking for an overhaul of the system, for a competent government to lead the change and for an independent judiciary committee to make sure justice is above all before any other considerations. This cannot happen overnight and the fight will be a long one, but every Lebanese citizen who is defending loudly his party or Zaiim, instead of quietly endorsing the change if he’s worried for his future, is helping turn our current hybrid regime into an authoritarian one.