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Pick Your President. Vote.

Pick Your President. Vote.

* Illustrations by Sara El-Yafi
** Please make sure you VOTE below! Scroll down to the end of the article for the ballot form. 

I am here to make a case for voting for our President through direct suffrage.

Today the Lebanese people cannot choose their heads of states. In fact, we are barely able to elect the 128 members of parliament who are meant to represent us (see barbaric electoral law + endless suspension of barbaric elections), and when not paralyzed by their ineffectiveness, those 128 members have the exclusive power to nominate a President and a Prime Minister. Why them? Because our system is based on the model of the French Third Republic founded on the French Constitutional Laws of 1875 that France generously passed on to us in the fresh years of the 1920s. The laws basically stipulate that the power to elect the President belongs to an electoral college (i.e. the Parliament), not the people… Today, the French have personally moved on from their Third Republic, –twice–, and are currently way into their Fifth Republic where the people have the power to directly vote for their President. The French President then has the jurisdiction to appoint his Prime Minister, as well as his mistress whom he must uniquely visit on a scooter for eco-friendly reasons.

I believe it is high time we too were able to elect our President. While it is true that some first world nations still opt for indirect elections to vote in heads of state, like the US and Germany who both still do it through an electoral college, it is not a beneficial choice for us in any way; in fact, it is detrimental. The electoral institutions of countries like the US and Germany function through the intuitive concept of policy responsiveness where geography and sociology adequately represent the impact of mass opinion on social policy output. We are not the US, nor are we Germany in any way. In our country, the very geographic sectarian division mirrored by the confessionally ridden system naturally produces cross-national variation in every model of electoral college voting. Sectarian geography necessarily results in sectarian votes, which in turn result in the election of sectarian Parliamentarians who control all powers. It is a vicious circle. Thus, the excessive and suffocating powers of the Parliament intensely disarticulate the voices of the people of Lebanon, who from the onset are imprisoned by their stifling geographic locations and religious affiliations. The Parliament’s power must be diluted, not towards religious representation, not towards geographic locations, but towards the people of Lebanon.

It is a dire necessity that we demand the right to directly vote for our President. We need it for the cohesion of our Lebanese nation. There is compelling evidence in the intellectual history of research on what electing their head of state does to the psyche of the people. It empowers them, it involves them and it responsibilizes them. This is the intuitive conception of how a democracy works. You pick your leaders, all of them, you pick the policies that govern you, you raise the stakes through democracy, and you hold them accountable for their promises; promises that they initially engaged in to win your blessing, not some foreign power. Nominees have to campaign for your votes. They have to win your hearts and minds because they work for you. Leaving the nomination of our head of state in the hands of 128 politicians perpetuating the sectarian system, incapacitated most of the time, elected on sectarian basis with a legislated preemptive disposal of occupying “religious seats” and perpetuating their own re-election by controlling and manipulating the election law, is far from being a compelling call for national development, or for the advancement of social cohesion that we so desperately need as a nation. As for solving the democratic problem through parliamentary electoral law reform, it is indeed necessary but it is an uphill battle that will take a long time to resolve due to the fact that the parliamentary electoral law is fundamentally in bed with sectarianism; and sectarianism is a social issue more than it is a political issue that will take more than a few legal reforms to get rid of. We must directly vote for our President. “One person–one vote” across the nation. No religions, no geographically restricted voices, just equal voices for all in one country.

Every political party can present their own candidate, but mostly, independents will freely run for elections without feeling the need to tie themselves to any political force. We must start having live debates on television between the nominees, where we get introduced to their platforms, actual policy plans and articulated visions from which we can choose.

Now you will say, “Doesn’t this need constitutional reform that must pass through the Parliament?” Yes, that’s true. We may not be actually voting for our President anytime soon, but all reforms start with movements, and we need to start that movement now. “Political stalemate” has become too familiar of a phrase, as has the ridiculously insane normality of inefficiency and corruption, not to mention the insufferable acceptance that our awful reality casually includes explosions as a part of our surreal ordinary way of living. That is because all the power rests in the hands of the Parliament, the incapacitated, injurious, and corruption-ridden parliament. Power must be divided, not amongst members of the parliament, not amongst religions, not amongst geographic belongings, but amongst the people. Today, we are waiting for the 128 members of Parliament and their respective “leaders” to come to a consensus about picking a President who actually represents us. You know the drill, the result is bound to be underwhelming.

Let us help them. Let us tell them whom we want as President.

I have created a poll found below, a mock election ballot, to gauge your opinion on whom you believe should be our President. Would the results be representative? No, but this is the beginning of a necessary process. If this gains momentum, this could expand onto a national democracy exercise where the participating sample would be wider, and hopefully more representative. When this is done, we will report it to the news media.

Today there are eight possible Presidential candidates, I have included them below but I have added a ninth option (Other) where you can add your own since this is about you, not them. This list is by no means exhaustive, nor the best, but since these names are the ones currently being “debated” in political circles, let us show them our opinion. If you have any other suggestions, put it in the comment box below. For those who may be unfamiliar with some of the candidates, I have volunteered a short bio for each (found in the tabs below in alphabetical order). Though I fundamentally disagree with the ideology of most of them, I tried my best to fill them with common knowledge, their “positives” and “drawbacks”, the “hearsay” and of course, their zodiac signs. These are by no means complete.

Since I am starting this here, I will go ahead and declare my vote publicly. I vote for Ziyad Baroud; no questions asked. In my humble opinion, this man is wealth for this nation; to know why, kindly read what is written in his bio below.

I will be posting the results on this website. Let’s hear your voice. Vote. Good night, and good luck.

Play along. Place your vote below.

Michel Aoun
Age: 80 years old
Party:
Free Patriotic Movement (March 8)
Zodiac:
Libra 

Michel AounFormer commander-in-chief of the Lebanese army during the civil war, he served as interim Prime Minister of a divided nation from 1988-1990, which ended in his exile to Paris for 15 years. Upon his return after the Cedar Revolution, Aoun founded the Free Patriotic Movement in 2005, which currently constitutes the 2nd largest represented party in the parliament occupying 19 (of 64 possible “Christian seats”) in the 128-seat parliament.

  • His positives? He is more secular than others, grew up in a mixed Muslim-Christian neighborhood, which is exemplary for this nation in many ways. He claims to want to fight corruption by bringing to justice all those who have pillaged Lebanon’s resources, which is attractive.
  • His drawbacks? “Behavioral politics”, if you know what I mean. Also, he has been criticized for overindulging in the cult of his persona, which has some people questioning his authenticity for public service as opposed to “self service.” Aoun has also upset many with the way he got in bed with the Syrian regime after he struck a partnership with Hezbollah, the same regime that put him in exile. To his contenders, these controversies weaken his above-mentioned strengths because they potentially show that Aoun can forgo national principles for the sake of self-advancement.
  • What his friends say about him? Honest, straightforward and a man of the people. His followers believe that his ‘turn-around’ behavior is commendable for it is the only way to surpass the corruption for the higher purpose of Lebanon.
  • What his enemies say about him? Bully, delusional and desperate.
  • Highlights of his career? His secularism. For some, it is also the Memorandum of Understanding with Hezbollah.
  • Lows of his career? For some, it is the Memorandum of Understanding with Hezbollah. For others, it is “The War of Liberation” (حرب عون ), which resulted in much Lebanese blood on his hands and his exile.

Ziyad Baroud
Age: 43 years old
Party: Independent
Zodiac: Taurus

Ziyad Baroud web

Considered one of the more accessible and popular politicians of Lebanon especially amongst the Lebanese youth, Ziyad Baroud served as Minister of Interior in two consecutive cabinets from 2008 to 2011 under both Prime Ministers Siniora and Hariri. A lawyer by formation and an expert on electoral law reform and decentralization, Baroud is a prominent activist in Lebanon’s civil society. Baroud holds a doctorate on the subject of “Decentralization in Lebanon after the Taif Agreement”, a topic that constitutes one of his main subjects of expertise as well as one of the major lobbying points of his political agenda.

  • His positives? A real civil servant, par excellence. Baroud is known for his conscientious work ethics, his approachability and his political impartiality. He is a renowned expert on issues of decentralization and electoral law reform, having won international awards spanning some of the highest institutions of the world (see here for the list). As a minister, he is one of the very few, if not the only one, to have pushed forward a culture of direct responsibility and accessibility where he made himself readily available to all Lebanese citizens eager to share complaints and/or opinions, and was extensively present in daily activities of his subordinates. During his tenure, the ministry of Interior achieved records with a large decrease in car accidents, as well as a 77% decrease in car thefts. He is secular, well-learned and very intelligent.
  • His drawbacks? He is criticized for being too diplomatic and not voicing his opinion on his haters enough.
  • What his friends say about him? That he is the only true honest, clean and national politician in the country. A man of the people, honest as an arrow, secular, diplomatic, astute, hardworking, charismatic, a listener. He is the perfect face for a new, secular, adaptive Lebanon.
  • What his enemies say about him? That he always tries to please everybody, and cannot therefore be considered seriously as long as he refuses to take sides in the March 14/March 8 conflict.
  • Highlights of his career? Baroud was credited with overseeing Lebanon’s best-managed round of elections to date in 2009, which he orchestrated in one day instead of the conventional four weekends, a record in Lebanese history. This has earned him the First Prize of the very prestigious United Nations Public Service Award where Lebanon was ranked FIRST among 400 government administrations from all over the world by the United Nations Public Administration Network (UNPAN). Furthermore, Baroud is the first government official to ever officially give freedom of choice to Lebanese citizens about revealing their religious affiliation on civil registry documents. Lebanese citizens are now free to cross out their religious identity from all official documents, and replace it with a slash sign (/) if they desire.
  • Lows of his career? The dispute that originated after factions of the Internal Security Forces violated his authority and escalated into a 8 – 14 March diplomatic proxy war that was unlawfully fought on grounds belonging to Baroud’s jurisdiction. Baroud, having felt disrespected, immediately handed in his resignation.

Sleiman Frangieh
Age: 48 years old
Party: Marada (March 8)
Zodiac: Libra

Sleiman Frangieh web

Sleiman Frangieh is the son of late politician and militia leader Tony Frangieh, who was assassinated in the ‘intra-Christian’ Ehden massacre in 1978, and grandson of namesake former president Sleiman Frangieh. Following the massacre, 13-year old Sleiman was sent to Syria for protection where he got close with the Assad family, especially Bassel Assad. Today Frangieh remains very close with Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad. Frangieh is a current member of Parliament, and has been for the past 23 years. He also previously served as a minister six different times during most pro-Syrian administrations, the first one being at the age of 25.

  • His positives? His outspoken courage and … his looks? Also, he never sought revenge for his father recounting that “it is in the past and must be forgotten”, which is commendable.
  • His drawbacks?  Feudal politics, at its best. This is a man who undoubtedly suffered a terrible fate due to his political affiliation, but who is also a product of political affiliation par excellence, which is a thorn in Lebanon’s side; being born into a famous family should not be the main criterion to lead a country. In Frangieh’s specific case, his family affiliation is a national concern for many. Lebanon suffered under Syrian occupation for 30 years and Sleiman Frangieh embraced the Syrian occupation, albeit for personal reasons. Today, he outspokenly supports the Syrian Assad regime of the Syrian civil war, which is unacceptable for many. It is thus believed by his contenders that he cannot possibly lead from a clean slate and does not hold a sterile vision for Lebanon’s sovereignty.
  • What his friends say about him? Straightforward, courageous, and apparently quite friendly. 
  • What his enemies say about him? Syrian minion with a compromised allegiance. 
  • Highlights of his career? Disbanded his armed militia for the purpose of becoming a political party after the civil war. 
  • Lows of his career? Not able to transcend feudal politics in order to level with the playing field of national politics.

Samir Geagea
Age: 61 years old
Party: Lebanese Forces (March 14)
Zodiac: Scorpio

Samir Geagea webSamir Geagea was a prominent Lebanese militia leader of the civil war where he served as leader of the Lebanese Forces, the then military wing of the Christian Phalange political party. After the war, he served 11 years in jail for crimes he was accused of committing during the civil war; he was tried and sentenced for ordering four political assassinations, which he denied. Some of those crimes include the assassination of Tony Frangieh and his wife, which orphaned the above-mentioned Sleiman Frangieh.

  • His positives? 11 years in jail allegedly softened him; he speaks of having brushed shoulders with enlightenment, which is honestly noteworthy.
  • His drawbacks? He committed several crimes, which is not a casual point. Furthermore, Samir Geagea plays a heavily sectarian card. His political party is one of the most religiously driven parties, competing only with Hezbollah in terms of religious radicalism. That is not a positive point for all those who support a secular, all-embracing Lebanon.
  • What his friends say about him?  That he deserves credit for being the only one to have paid his dues for the war with a heavy 11 years in solitary confinement. He is also said to be strong-willed and quite professional in his dealings. He also has an interesting sense of humor.
  • What his enemies say about him? “You killed my father, my son, my daughter, my mother, my husband, my wife” you know, stuff like that.
  • Highlights of his career? Having come out of jail a reborn person, he admits it, he shows it, hopefully, he will teach about it through non-sectarian and non-political means.
  • Lows of his career?  The blood on his hands.

Amine Gemayel 
Age: 72 years old
Party: Phalange (March 14)
Zodiac: Aquarius

Amine Gemayel webAmine Gemayel was president of Lebanon from 1982 to 1988, and is the current leader of the Christian Phalange party (Kataeb). He hails from one of the most traditional, politically known Maronite families of Lebanon. This is a man who suffered many difficult losses in his life including an assassinated brother, son, and niece. Often contrasted with his younger brother, late Bachir Gemayel, who was deemed the more radical militiaman, Amine was seen as more moderate. However, by many people’s standards, his moderation was still somewhat radical in terms of religious and political positioning. The Phalange party is subsequently criticized for not really having evolved from being a right-wing Christian party with narrow vision for Lebanon, into adopting a more embracing secular leaning.

  • His positives? He is cultured and well traveled. He already served as president of Lebanon, so he will die a former president no matter what happens.
  • His drawbacks? He plays a sectarian card that does not resound with the voice of a secular, all-embracing Lebanon that many people long for. He’s already been president once, many are not attracted to the idea of recycled presidents.
  • What his friends say about him? He has been around long enough and knows the ropes enough that he can deal with Lebanese affairs. He is a proponent of democracy.
  • What his enemies say about him? He is sectarian, outdated, not evolved and lackluster.
  • Highlights of his career? He was president once and was able to rebalance the party from his brother’s more radical stance to assuage some Lebanese’s bitterness, which was creditable.
  • Lows of his career? Out of the desire to stay loyal to his father’s original founded party, he did not evolve enough and adapt into a more secular, forward-looking and adaptive Lebanese party, which results in the dismissal of the Phalanges as being outdated and hardly representative of the modern globalist Lebanese.

Jean Kahwaji
Age: 59 years old
Party: Military
Zodiac: Libra

Jean Kahwaji webGeneral Kahwaji has been the commander in chief of the Lebanese Armed Forces, i.e. the Lebanese military since 2008. The post originally went to Francois Hajj, but he was assassinated in 2007 giving way to Kahwaji’s appointment.  Kahwaji is noted for having had extensive experience on the battlefield, having led some of the bloodiest battles of the civil war. This “strict military man” is said to hold the army in solid esteem of political neutrality. He is close with Minister Elias Murr, which could resound negatively to some. If he were elected, he would be the third president in a row to hail straight from the military.

  • His positives? He is an industrious man who seems to have climbed the echelons of the army with hard work and perseverance, well, military style.
  • His drawbacks? He is a military man. For many, that is not appealing since the political landscape operates differently from a military battlefield to the ignorance of many militaries. Imbued with military dogma, military personnel are more willing to use force to settle disputes than civilians, with authoritative, hierarchical mandates. And the military aura is the least needed in Lebanon.
  • What his friends say about him? He is neutral and can manage political pressures well. He is a field soldier’s soldier, committed to the army with an illustrious career. 
  • What his enemies say about him? He only got the job because he got lucky. They question his qualifications and assert him not competent enough to lead a country. And some say, well, haven’t we had enough militaries? 
  • Highlights of his career? Uninterrupted upward climbing with a long service record. 
  • Lows of his career? Well, his job was to slay people in a landscape filled with different political allegiances. 

Jean Obeid
Age: 74 years old
Party: Independent
Zodiac: Taurus

Jean Obeid

Jean Obeid served as a minister in different cabinets, namely as Minister of State in 1993, Minister of National Education, Youth and Sports in 1996-1998, and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants in late Prime Minister Rafik Hariri’s last cabinet in 2003.  He was also a member of parliament for 16 years. He had a close relationship with late Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, as well as the Syrian regime in the 90’s and early 2000’s. He also served as a close advisor to Presidents Elias Sarkis and Amine Gemayel during the civil war. In the past three presidential elections, Obeid was always nominated and even came close to winning the ballot, but consistently lost to the military men.

  • His positives? He is seen as a moderate by many and thus, was able to maintain good relations with various political factions in Lebanon.
  • His negatives? He served in administrations that were staunchly pro-Syrian regime, which sets him at odds with many in the country. His contenders believe that if he had no problem serving under occupation abiding by Syrian rules, then he hasn’t earned the right to be promoted to the presidency of a country that is struggling to be free.
  • What his friends say about him? Very intelligent, tactical and a good friend to many. He refused to show up in Parliament when they had announced President Lahoud’s term extension, which is a strong stance he took against the regime since he was the Foreign Minister at the time. It is said that Obeid has not visited the President of Syria since then.
  • What his enemies say about him? A former Syrian ally.
  • Highlights of his career? Understands well the basics of diplomacy and thus was able to navigate the rough waters of the divided political tides unscathed. To some, it’s because he compromised sovereignty values, to others he is quite intelligent and chooses wisely when to speak. He also won 34,000 votes in Tripoli when he ran as an independent in the general elections in 2009, which is an impactful deal.
  • Lows of his career? He was kidnapped in 1987 during the civil war for 4 days, but was unharmed. On another note, it is said that his former pro-Syrian regime stance may have cost him in popularity. Also, he keeps being considered for the presidency and loses to military men. 
Riad Salamé
Age: 63 years old
Party/Occupation: None/Banker
Zodiac: Cancer

Riad Salameh webRiad Salamé is the governor of Lebanon’s central bank. He was appointed in 1993 for a 6-year term and reappointed for three consecutive terms after that. Today, Riad Salamé is credited with having saved Lebanon from economic recession and monetary explosion. Salamé was late Prime Minister Rafik Hariri’s private banker. He is known to be a private man, hardly seen in social outings, very intelligent, and helpful to the people.

  • His positives? His astute brain. In 2004, he set up a dictate prohibiting banks in Lebanon from engaging in subprime lending and investments, as well as exotic derivatives purchases requiring a minimum 30% cash reserve in each institution. This earned him the valued credit of having spared the Lebanese banking system from the whirlwind of world recession in the greatest credit bubble burst that our world has ever seen, brought about by the upshots of the downfall of Lehman Brothers. He is also credited with having stabilized the Lebanese Lira despite the heavy political turmoil endlessly endured by the nation from the assassinations to the 2006 Israel war and the 2007 North Lebanon war. Salamé’s cautious monetary policies also contributed to a significant increase in Lebanese bank deposits.
  • His negatives? Not too well versed in politics. Since he was Rafik Hariri’s private banker, several allegations have been made against him concerning illicit private banking behavior. Granted these allegations are unverified.
  • What his friends say about him? That he is one of the smartest men living in Lebanon today.
  • What his enemies say about him? That he turned a blind eye on money laundering and sold his soul to certain politicians.
  • Highlights of his career? He was voted “Best Central Bank Governor” about ten times within the Middle East and was on a world list as well, with one foreign author went to the extent of calling him “the greatest central banker of our time.” He holds notable world recognition for his economic work, having been acknowledged by Global Finance, Banker Magazine, the New York Stock Exchange, World Union of Arab Bankers, Euromoney, and the French President.
  • Lows of his career? Being accused of facilitating money laundering, corruption, dual books of audit/accountancy and money racketeering. As far as he is concerned, these are still unwarranted allegations.
Other
Age: Over 21
Party: All night long
Zodiac: Awesome

You!If you don’t agree with any of the eight candidates, you can submit the name of any other person, hopefully a woman, that you believe deserves to be considered as a Presidential nominee. Just pick “Other” in the ballot below and write the name of your choice. You only get one vote though; so if it’s going to your grandmother, she’d better be ready to party all night long.

 

 

 

empty chair drawing web

 

Written by Sara El-Yafi

76 Comments

  1. Samer Ragheb · February 15, 2014

    Sara El-Yafi, I think I’m in love with you. Also, “as well as his mistress whom he must uniquely visit on a scooter for eco-friendly reasons.” Delightful.

  2. Noora Husseini · February 15, 2014

    I love how while making an excellent point you are not afraid of being tongue in cheek. We need more women like you Sara, not just for Lebanon but for the Middle East.

  3. Lamia Jallad · February 15, 2014

    Love love love the illustration!

  4. Sam Wahab · February 15, 2014

    I'd so easily nominate you in the Other section knowing full well that it'll garner more votes… But then again baby steps! Still think you'd rock the Presidency. #Sara4Prez

  5. Sam Wahab · February 15, 2014

    A hell of a very well articulated and simple overview of why we’re in the mess we’re in, as well as a nice initiative where we can collect our own votes if WE would ever be asked “Who would you vote for, for President”. Best 5 minutes you could spend on a Saturday.

  6. Karim Hamade · February 15, 2014

    Will share it on my timeline Sara El-Yafi

  7. Abdallah Jabbour · February 15, 2014

    Brilliant post Miss future President, and I suggest you ask Jackie to spread the word. That would guarantee you a 99% poll participation 😉

    • Sara El-Yafi · February 15, 2014

      Thanks Abdallah. I’ve always been attracted to the title “president for life”.

      • joumana · February 17, 2014

        Love this reply:)Sara El Yafi You are the cutest,wittiest,most brilliant,most dedicated to good,human being I know, or read about,or encountered,or watched or heard!I am so lucky to be the mom of such an amazing HUMAN BEING with the TRUE sense of the word!Adore you daughter,God b
        less you!

  8. Nadim Haddad · February 15, 2014

    Hassan Nasrallah for president. No thank you. I’m not with you on this one Sara. Remember that, regardless of the result of your ballot here on FB, the population sample on here AND who happen to read Sara El-Yafi does not represent the reality on the ground.
    Finally, you speak of France moving to a direct vote by the people for the president. True democracy is a dangerous thing when given to a people that is not ready like ours. We need first to become LEBANESE by ending our confessional system, and have a civil society. That is our fight!!!
    Then maybe one day our children will get to vote for a president.

    • Sara El-Yafi · February 15, 2014

      Nadim, I don’t think you read my article. The presidency will still be given to the Maronites. The point of voting for our president is about taking the power away from the Parliament and giving it to the people, that is the fight against confessionalism because we get to curtail the trend of having the same people reelected based on the decision of the small group of people who reelect themselves, which is the very definition of sectarianism. Just read my post will ya? 🙂

      • Nadim Haddad · February 15, 2014

        My bad Saracita! I thought your article is what you posted.
        I must insist though that our labor today must be towards ending the confessional system and creating a civil society.
        Everything can then be built on top of that. That is the foundation.
        Ziad Baroud gets my vote but only after we achieve that civil society. I say that only to protect Ziad. Cos either he’ll be compromised or killed. The country today doesn’t allow a strong LEBANESE leader.

      • Nadim Haddad · February 15, 2014

        And your proposed plan is an interim plan. The destination must be a presidency open to any Lebanese not just Maronites. One day.

        • Sara El-Yafi · February 15, 2014

          I agree. But I insist Nadim that by voting for our president, we get to fight against sectarianism. So this goes within the plan to end the confessional system. You are saying what I am saying. Read my article. Wallahi it’s worth it. 🙂

    • Kareem Chehayeb · February 15, 2014

      Nadim, that slippery slope is so slippery it could kill someone.

      Also, Sara El-Yafi, I accuse you of conspiring with Iran and Afghanistan, based on the content of your article. 🙂

  9. Sara El-Yafi · February 15, 2014

    Read my article before you post comments guys. Otherwise, I will get mad.

    • Nadim Haddad · February 15, 2014

      I diiiiid! 🙂 Posted My second comment after reading the article (clicking on the link). We’ll discuss this asap… I’m open to seeing how that is possible

      • Elie Cedar · February 22, 2014

        Every few years, and to bargain for a yet bigger piece of the pie, Lebanese Muslim politicians start floating the idea of electing our President directly by the people. Ah, and yes, the President will remain Christian, but it needs to be elected directly by the Muslim majority, including the 500,000 recently converted mainly Muslim Lebanese citizens (Mid 90s to 2000). So there is nothing new in Sara’s proposal…except of course, Sara is very eloquent and has excellent command of the language and her articles are captivating. But neither the idea is original nor the premise on which the idea is based….this is a typical Arabist mentality.

        • Abdulrahman Sinno MD · February 24, 2014

          It makes me so sad to read your comment. It sounds like you are stuck in the 40s. The sisyphian argument about the identity of Lebanon is a tragic manifestation of primal social instinct. Do we really need to discuss that, which in the face of all the adversity we are currently faced with, appears beyond trivial?

          The failure of the Lebanese state in its current format has hurt the Christians of Lebanon as it has the Muslims, Jews, and Athiests.

          The fear that they have instilled in your heart from “the arabist muslims” or the persian shiities or the elitist christians is their tool to perpetuate their existence despite their horrible performance as politicians. It is the same strategy used by the Turks in 1860, followed by the french prior to the mandate, and by the islamists in the 21st century.

          I propose to you this sir:

          This sectarian system has succeeded. It has succeeded in that it has achieved its goal in keeping us divided, weak, and in a failed state. Its greatest success has been to turn a once creative and resourceful people into cynical and apathetic yes men. (and women)

          Let us agree that this entire ruling class must go. With out exception. I think we can agree on that.

          The truth is that the majority of people care more about jobs and healthcare and education than they do about these warlord/feudal/religious leaders. This is clearly reflected in the extremely low turn out for parliamentary elections. Having a one man one vote will mobilize the silent majority who would feel like they have a steak in the country’s future.

          Empowering people to take control of their future is the only way to break this viscous cycle of shitty legislation resulting in shitty politicians who propose shitty agendas that validate their existance to the highest bidder. It might even make them talk less about politics and more about policy.

          I think Sara’s proposal, while more grounded that I would have liked (maintaining the secular nature of lebanese politics), would empower the participation of those who have not participated in decades or even in their whole lives. I believe, in my core, beyond a reasonable doubt, that when we successfully pull these silent few out of cynicism and apathy that we can begin to affect change in tiny little country of ours.

  10. Aref El Yafi · February 15, 2014

    Ya rohi,
    Brilliant and dazzling post and delightful as Samer Ragheb rightly said. Hooray for electing the president au suffrage universel. Last but not least, it will not be a proxy vote on behalf of foreign powers. You dotted the i's and crossed the t's.

  11. Karim C. · February 15, 2014

    I love this article. Such a great writer. You should try and get this published. I can help.

  12. Ali Al-Khalil · February 15, 2014

    always refreshing Sara! 🙂

  13. Rabih Rached · February 15, 2014

    Great initiative, good politicians resumes, I love your intuition Sara. I read & voted. Someday our president will be elected by us & some other day, our country will be de-secterianized

  14. Nabil Nabil Tabet · February 15, 2014

    Excellent mais avec Aref comme 1er ministre acr on a besoin de gens intelligent N'st ce pas Aref? Poupouche

  15. Hamzi Moghrabi · February 15, 2014

    This should be a movement to elect the president directly from the people. If not passed, supporters of this right should put a white blank vote and never boycott the election.

  16. abdo ayoub · February 15, 2014

    Excellente idee un vote au suffrage universel mais quand !!!!!!! surement pas de mon epoque

    • Sara El-Yafi · February 18, 2014

      Peut-être que si cher Abdo. L’optimisme est de volonté… Je suis certaine qu’on puisse aboutir à un résultat si on se mobilise avec volonté et persévérance. Stay tuned for now.

  17. Peter Spierig · February 15, 2014

    Sara El Yafi for President!!!

  18. Karine ghosn · February 16, 2014

    Sara ! Can’t make a choice …. It’s so difficult !!!!! Maybe ziad baroud is a good option, we need to hear about a President who has a Program

    • Sara El-Yafi · February 18, 2014

      Exactly, and such a platform will push the nominees to have a program, otherwise, they won’t get elected! To answer your choice concern, yes, Ziyad Baroud is one of the finest choices by far, that’s my personal opinion.

      • Fadi · February 18, 2014

        Technically Ziad Baroud is not Maronite, he’s Orthodox (I think), so his becoming president would require a change in the “balance of powers” that our dear constitution is somehow built upon, which would ruffle more than just a few feathers in political circles.. Not that I would mind actually seeing him on a ballot. Just being the devil’s advocate here..

  19. Ghias El Yafi · February 17, 2014

    Well done Sara. An excellent and much needed idea to test what the Lebanese really want. I voted but not sure if I did so twice!!!!! Are you sure that we are allowed one vote only? Where do I get to see the results?

    • Sara El-Yafi · February 18, 2014

      You have to make sure you fill in every “required” field, otherwise the vote won’t go through. I don’t believe your vote was registered, try again, make sure you answer all required fields and let me know. Thanks Ghias.

  20. Joumana El-Yafi · February 17, 2014

    As usual,brilliant,rightful,honest,nationalistic,transparent,instructive,deeply researched,(I can see the sleepless nights behind each such post,your beautiful eyes and mind reading and researching and digging )not to forget the touch of amazing humor that make reading your posts even lovelier(Aside from your picture of course).My awesome darling
    do I tell you enough how proud I am of you?

  21. Dana · February 17, 2014

    Thanks for this Sara – when and where can we view the results?

    • Sara El-Yafi · February 18, 2014

      Hi Dana, I am guessing in the next two weeks, depending on the activity this gathers. I will be posting it on my Facebook page. Stay tuned.

  22. Nourane Barrage · February 18, 2014

    Do u think we can do it one day Sara. I hope so

    • Sara El-Yafi · February 18, 2014

      I do dear Nourane. We just need to gather the momentum for it. I am working on it, and with your help and the help of our compatriots, I am sure we can do something.

  23. Zeina Saab · February 18, 2014

    “We must start having live debates on television between the nominees, where we get introduced to their platforms, actual policy plans and articulated visions from which we can choose.” That would be the day! Bravo, Sara El-Yafi, for another excellent post.

  24. Ghaith Yafi · February 18, 2014

    Simply Brilliant Sara El-Yafi!

  25. Mohamed Mirza · February 18, 2014

    Intrigued when read the headline of your blog, inspired when I read throughout, disappointed when I wanted to vote: why a Maronite only list of candidates? I’m sure the Taef agreement is no less barbaric than the 3rd French Republic laws…real democracy doesn’t allocate presidency to 1 sect. Abolish all or nothing 🙂

    • Sara El-Yafi · February 18, 2014

      Mohamed, let me say from the onset that I agree with you; I completely agree. And I believe this should be the goal to ease into in the long run. I’ll relate my thoughts to you… In today’s Lebanese state of mind, sectarianism is still very much a social issue and there is a substantial portion of the population that is terrorized by the threat of “other political parties.” Playing it safe for them would be the requirement for advancement out of their current comfort zone. Those people would feel more secure and protected if we “eased in” the reforms while maintaining some sort of “protection plan” for them considering the fear that the Lebanese demographics have of one another. It is an unfortunate reality, but I believe it is our reality. With this universal suffrage step, we take it a notch up but not too far to intimidate the fearful people. With this universal suffrage, you empower the voters equally, the Shiite, Sunni, Maronite and Buddhist all have the same exact right and claim to decide who their President is, which may add to our national cohesion and feed into our future egalitarian, non-sectarian opinion of one another. When the voting equality sits in with the Lebanese people for a while, and the debates and the electorates’ reality shows its colors, we would be able to open the nominations to all qualified candidates based on merit and not confession, and the country will be the one to choose its best President based on the nominee’s popularity and vision, not the nominee’s confession and alliance… But let’s fight this battle first.

  26. Wassek El Yafi · February 18, 2014

    Ma chère Sara, l’idée d’utiliser avec intelligence le web est géniale c’est un levier d’influence qui peut créer des surprises dans le milieu fermé et cadenacé de la politique libanaise. Bravo”

    • Wassek El Yafi · February 18, 2014

      …il faudrait auparavant poser la question: êtes-vous pour ou contre l’élection du président au suffrage universel . Bises

    • Sara El-Yafi · February 19, 2014

      Merci mon cher Wassek. Et merci pour ton vote. Effectivement, c’est bien l’idée de remettre en question la réalité de la politique libanaise suffocante et renfermée, et donner un peu plus de liberté de choix aux Libanais qui sont tellement exclus de toute décision et de tout résultat politique. Aucun développement n’aura lieu dans le pays si l’on n’augmente pas la mise sur l’opinion publique, et avec optimisme, si l’on ne s’efforce de quantifier cette opinion par suffrage universel. C’est là où nous trouverons le début de notre vraie libération, en mon opinion. Grosses bises.

  27. Philippe K · February 18, 2014

    The current constitution is a huge mess…it makes it so that neither the President nor the PM has enough power to do anything useful by himself. To make things worst:
    people elect confessional parliament -> parliament votes for president (2/3) -> president signs in PM that was picked by parliament -> PM+president build a cabinet.
    So assuming that the people would vote for the president directly, the president can’t do nothing without a PM, and the PM needs to be “approved” by all of Parliament, which means the PM is always neutral/impotent. So really, for it to make any difference, there also needs to be a change made to how the PM is appointed, which in turn means how the Parliament is voted in. The current confessional parliament means there will never be a majority winner in parliament who can pick their own PM who isn’t neutral/impotent.

    The real problem is the confessional parliament, change that and you give to people’s vote power over which party will lead the country. Ironically, the current constitution calls for setting up a non-confessional parliament in exchange for a confessional senate… but no one really cares about that part of the constitution! So what’s the real solution? Implement the f*cking constitution fully without changing it…

  28. Jamal B. · February 18, 2014

    As usual Sara, very smart, thought-provoking and written with a great sense of humor. I think I would vote for Ziad Baroud. But I want to vote for you mostly.

  29. Karim A. · February 18, 2014

    I can’t believe you actually drew that. I can’t believe how smart and beautiful and brilliant you are. I can’t believe… ok I think you get it, I am a fan. And I just voted. Thanks Sara for this.

  30. Ghada El Yafi · February 18, 2014

    Ce serait formidable si on pouvait y arriver!
    Très bonne initiative. Bravo! Peut-être que la diffusion sur internet peut accroître le nombre de gens sensibilisés à ce sujet…???? Je le souhaite vivement.

    Par contre, même si convaincue que c’est le seul moyen de ne plus être un objet entre les mains de l’étranger, c’est un changement de la constitution que tu demandes et j’y adhère pleinement. Mais c’est un chemin ardu!

    Il est prévu dans la constitution de Taef de trouver les moyens pour progressivement sortir du confessionnalisme vers la citoyenneté. Pour cela, pourquoi ne proposerions-nous pas, à tour de rôle une confession différente à la tête de l’état et des autres présidences. Ainsi un président de la république pourrait être sunnite, par exemple, le président du conseil maronite et le président de la chambre d’une tierce confession. Cela permettrait de désacraliser le lien entre confession et présidence avec tous les fonctionnaires qui lui sont associés, et à fortiori de la population. Apres 3 ou 4 tours on pourrait mieux se libérer du confessionnalisme et mieux adhérer à la citoyenneté, tout en respectant pleinement les droits de la croyance religieuse et autres.
    Bon courage et encore bravo!
    Grosses bises

  31. Lina Sergie · February 18, 2014

    You’re an inspiration! xx

  32. Joey Ayoub · February 18, 2014

    Sara this is a very well-written post. I'll be sure to check out your blog from now on 🙂

  33. Nasser El Hout · February 18, 2014

    Another great article, however, this will not take place in the foreseeable future. First, as Mr. Haddad mentioned above, posters here are totally different from reality on the ground. Sadly enough, poverty, illiteracy, unemployment, and sectarianism are all on the rise, factors which will inhibit any progress towards true democratic gains. Second, regardless that the presidency will still be reserved for a particular sect, there will always be feeling that she (since we are dreaming anyway) will be appointed by other sects.

    In any case, keep your great articles coming. we need more people like you who are creating healthy discussions.

  34. Souha Chroniques Civiles · February 18, 2014

    Excellent, brilliant…thanks for your clear analysis. What a great dream, no more sectarian votes!!! "No religions, no geographically restricted voices, just equal voices for all in one country": great!

  35. Tarek Ksaybati · February 18, 2014

    Amazing Sara!

  36. Hassane 'Sean' Mahfouz · February 18, 2014

    mixed feelings about this… not that I don’t want people to pick their president… but I honestly don’t think our people will pick a president for the right reasons:
    a- za3im el 7ezeb
    b- since it’s only christian post in a sectarian Lebanon (it will be hard to convince the rest to vote from a non sectarian point of view)
    c- our constitution is old and crap… the reform u mentioned is 10 years away.
    d- if we get a good person (like Ziad Baroud) who tried to be civilised with our corrupt politicians… they will drive him away.
    e- this will only divide the Lebanese more because we can’t seem to agree on anything.
    f- we are around 400-500 K Lebanese active on social media … that’s only 10% of the Lebanese population (let’s say there are even 20%) that ‘s not how democracy works.

    sorry for the long post 😀

  37. Antoine Salloum · February 18, 2014

    But you know people reading your post aren’t exactly a good sample of Lebanese society… I mean most my friends who are liking and sharing this are among the most enlightened on my Facebook list, as opposed to other people who are not familiar with the Lebanese blogosphere and who can’t even follow through your long sophisticated post (some or most of these people would choose a different kind of president, those who can’t think for themselves). But I know you’re not trying to do any real poll or anything, and that you just wanna make us feel like we can do anything about it. And for a moment there, when voting on the blog, I thought my opinion mattered on the subject, so I thank you for it anyway.

  38. Molly Stacey · February 18, 2014

    Antoine Elias you should look at this too. Sara is the future of Lebanon. An intelligent, fair, just, incorruptible one x

  39. Lina · February 18, 2014

    The brilliant Sara El-Yafi!

  40. Elie Cedar · February 19, 2014

    I thought of participating for “entertainment” purpose only, but I couldn’t. For starter, the article sets up a weak case for directly electing our President. The French didn’t just pass us the electoral system, the whole Legal system in Lebanon (until present time) is based on the French system!!…and the banking system is also based (partly) on french law. We are the envy of the Arab world and its repressive regimes. If we need to change anything, it’s those regimes around us.
    Further, given Lebanon’s demographic and the over-sectarian populace, electing a President directly from the people will surely lead to a President less sensitive to the Christian aspiration and cause. After all, Modern Lebanon was created by Christians with French’s support. So your simple pole is not that simple, unless you remove all the constraints and you transport Lebanon to the European or the American continents, then we can entertain your game.
    Elie

    • Abdulrahman Sinno MD · February 24, 2014

      It makes me so sad to read your comment. It sounds like you are stuck in the 40s. The sisyphian argument about the identity of Lebanon is a tragic manifestation of primal social instinct. Do we really need to discuss that, which in the face of all the adversity we are currently faced with, appears beyond trivial?

      The failure of the Lebanese state in its current format has hurt the Christians of Lebanon as it has the Muslims, Jews, and Athiests.

      The fear that they have instilled in your heart from “the arabist muslims” or the persian shiities or the elitist christians is their tool to perpetuate their existence despite their horrible performance as politicians. It is the same strategy used by the Turks in 1860, followed by the french prior to the mandate, and by the islamists in the 21st century.

      I propose to you this sir:

      This sectarian system has succeeded. It has succeeded in that it has achieved its goal in keeping us divided, weak, and in a failed state. Its greatest success has been to turn a once creative and resourceful people into cynical and apathetic yes men. (and women)

      Let us agree that this entire ruling class must go. With out exception. I think we can agree on that.

      The truth is that the majority of people care more about jobs and healthcare and education than they do about these warlord/feudal/religious leaders. This is clearly reflected in the extremely low turn out for parliamentary elections. Having a one man one vote will mobilize the silent majority who would feel like they have a steak in the country’s future.

      Empowering people to take control of their future is the only way to break this viscous cycle of shitty legislation resulting in shitty politicians who propose shitty agendas that validate their existance to the highest bidder. It might even make them talk less about politics and more about policy.

      I think Sara’s proposal, while more grounded that I would have liked (maintaining the secular nature of lebanese politics), would empower the participation of those who have not participated in decades or even in their whole lives. I believe, in my core, beyond a reasonable doubt, that when we successfully pull these silent few out of cynicism and apathy that we can begin to affect change in tiny little country of ours.

  41. Abeer Seikaly · February 19, 2014

    Sara El-Yafi you rock

  42. Lea Korkmaz · February 19, 2014

    Plz VOTE! It’s start for the people to vote for their president directly!! Well said..

  43. Anthony Elghossain · February 19, 2014

    Great effort (though she seems to have stacked the deck :))–read and voice your own views, regardless of what they are.

    • Anthony Elghossain · February 19, 2014

      Sara El-Yafi … Very creative but also provides a useful outlet to guage opinion, etc.

  44. Nur Turkmani · February 19, 2014

    Just what I needed – an informative, comprehensive, non-biased article about our politicians.

    Thank you!

  45. Hamzi Moghrabi · February 20, 2014

    Dear Sara, your article and position is what we need to become an independent country with the ability to rule ourselves instead of being high jacked by other countries. First we need to abolish the sectarian division and become a secular state. The President must be nominated and elected directly by the people. The municipalities must be liberated from politician to become the self-ruling representatives of the residents within each municipalities to provide basic municipal services such as security, electricity, water, waste management, town planning and regulation. Then the Parliament representatives become responsible about runing the country wth the President in accordance with the Constitution.

  46. Hamzi Moghrabi · February 20, 2014

    I like to work with you to materialize steps that bring people to realize their civil and human rights.

  47. Joumana El-Yafi · February 21, 2014

    I am so so so proud of you my darling every minute of everyday till after eternity!And I am so proud to be your blessed Mom!

  48. Reza M. Maktabi · February 21, 2014

    much respect to u!

  49. Sara El-Yafi · February 22, 2014

    Thank you Joey. It means a lot. Make sure you subscribe to my website and/or like my Facebook page and/or befriend my mother on Facebook. That way you have all fronts covered.

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