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Cities in LEBANON



State structure

The Taïf Agreement of 1989 radically changed Lebanon's constitution and political system. The president still has to be a Maronite, but his power is severely limited. Political power now lies with the troika of the Maronite President, the Sunni Prime Minister and the Shiite Speaker of Parliament. However, differences of opinion make effective government difficult. Executive power lies with the Council of Ministers headed by the Prime Minister. The parliament has 128 seats, divided by region and ethnic group, with 64 seats for the Christian population and 64 for the Muslims. The president is officially elected by parliament. The Prime Minister is elected by the President after consultation with the deputies in Parliament. The government is then jointly formed by the president and the prime minister. Until recently, neighbouring Syria had a lot of political influence in Lebanon. However, after the Syrian withdrawal on 26 April 2005 and the international call for Lebanese autonomy, much of that power seems to have disappeared. The June 2005 elections are widely seen as the first independent in 15 years. The last parliamentary elections were held in June 2005. The next presidential elections will be held in November 2007, the parliamentary elections in May 2009.


In Lebanon, party politics in the Western sense is not practised but a sectarian distribution key is applied. This applies both to the distribution of seats in the Lebanese parliament and to the distribution of the three key Lebanese political positions (Prime Minister is Sunni Muslim, Speaker of the Parliament is Shiite Muslim and President is Maronite Christian). Politics is much more about individuals, families and religious groups. Christians, Sunnis and Druze each have their own political party. The largest population group, the Shiites, are divided between the pro-Syrian Amal movement and the Iranian-backed Hezbollah.

Lahoud is informally boycotted as an interlocutor by most foreign dignitaries because of the manner of his renewal and his pro-Syrian stance. For the time being, however, his position is unaffected, mainly due to internal divisions over a possible other candidate for the post.

The anti-Syrian Martyrdom List, Rafik Hariri, won 72 seats in the 2005 elections. The pro-Syrian Development and Resistance Bloc, which included Amal and Hezbollah, won 35 seats. In the last elections in June 2005, the religious breakdown of the voting population was 40% Christians and 60%. Muslims. Not only the religious divide divides Lebanese politics but also the divide between Pro and Anti - Syria divides the political landscape in Lebanon. In particular, the assassination of Rafik Hariri, the subsequent withdrawal of all Syrian troops from Lebanon, the UN investigation into Hariri's murder and the conflict between Hezbollah and Israel have made this divide the most important in Lebanese society and politics.

Prime Minister Siniora wants to implement a reform agenda, but in doing so he comes up against the aforementioned dividing line that also runs through his cabinet. Siniora's cabinet includes 6 pro- Syrian ministers (2 Hezbollah ministers, 3 Amal ministers and 1 Christian). The pro-Syrian groups have been calling increasingly loudly for a cabinet of national unity since the end of the 34-day war between Hezbollah and Israel. This desire is said to stem mainly from the fears of pro-Syrian groups about the UN investigation into Hariri's murder and the planned decision to set up a tribunal to try the perpetrators of this murder. The murder of Rafik Hariri is being investigated by the United Nations. To this end, it has set up the United Nations International Independent Investigation Committee (UNIIIC), which, under the leadership of the Belgian Serge Brammertz, is assisting the Lebanese authorities in investigating the Hariri case.

The current political situation is described in the history section.


The cornerstone of economic policy since the end of the civil war has been a stable Lebanese pound. This has been kept artificially high by the government in order to attract foreign investors. The country has a large budget deficit and a national debt that increased to almost twice the GDP after the war in 2006. Today the debt is 149% of the GDP (2017). As a result of an increase in some taxes and other revenue sources such as customs duties, the budget deficit has been reduced somewhat. In addition, expenditure has been slightly reduced. After a brief upturn, the state of the Lebanese economy is worrying. The civil war in Syria and the subsequent political crisis had a damaging effect on the economy.

Economic growth is 1.5% in 2017 and GDP per capita is $19,600.


BBC - Country Profiles

CIA - World Factbook

Elmar Landeninformatie 

Grünfeld, R. / Syrië, Jordanië en Libanon

Jenkins S. & Jousiffe A. / Lebanon
Lonely Planet 

Last updated April 2024
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