Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Elias Attallah: Breaking the Mold

Elias Atallah, the head of the Democratic Leftist Movement, might just break the mold! He might just be running under the Maronite seat in Tripoli, and he is of course from the Chouf. No, he has not lived in Tripoli, is not a business tycoon there fielding social and economic support to its peoples, and is no Maronite representative of the city.

But we are seeing here the first glimpses of how Lebanon's elections should be under a non-sectarian political system, a unified electoral district and viable party structures with clear-cut programs. I am not claiming that this has happened yet, but just now the Opposition (or shall we say the Opposition of March 14th to be clearer...) might be rectifying the error of excluding an important component of the Independence Uprising and taking a first stab at showing the way towards change.

What makes someone agree to take such a risk? It is not about Opposition versus Loyalists anymore, as much as it is an agreement to set a new trend. I learned once that a leader is a person who takes a risk and heads towards the unknown before he calls on others to do so. Elias Attallah is that leader. I hope that we, and Tripolitans in particular, are able to see beyond petty electoral politics and grasp the meaning of such an action. And as Nassir Al-Ass'ad wrote (almost taking the words out of my mouth): Having representatives from a progressive, modern, non-sectarian movement, such as the Leftist Democratic Movement in Parliament at this crucial turning point in our country's history is an asset indeed.

"Nobody knows how many rebellions, besides political rebellions, ferment in the masses of life which people earth."


Charles Malik said...

Are you serious?

Running in an area you are not from is not representative. In fact, it merely re-affirms sectarianiam. The only reason why Attallah is qualified to run for that seat is because of his religion.
Give me another reason. Any reason.

How is a Maronite from the Chouf competent to meet the needs of Maronites in Treblous. I don't like Sleiman Franjieh, but that guy actually represents his constituents. He meets the needs of his people.

Attallah has nothing to his credit besides forming a new party that is merely a re-branding of the old system. There is a reason why the youth became disgusted with the Democratic Left. It is merely sectarianism using different words.

Doha said...


First, we all know that there are not enough Maronites in Tripoli to allow for a representative seat, but they are given a seat for the purpose of equitable distribution among sects in the country. So the Maronite Tripoli seat was always a point of settling deals among lists. Even when Aoun was negotiating with Ghattas Khoury and Hamade, there was a debate whether to field Gibran Bassil for the Maronite Tripoli seat, but Aoun refused, as Bassil decided to run against Butros Harb in Batroun.

Second, you have to start from somewhere...any person or party or movement wishing to run in the elections according to our system have to comply with the whole sectarian calculation. So Attallah and his movement could wait until a non-sectarian political system is put in place in Lebanon, or they could take part and participate in making it so, which means that they have to run under the current sectarian system.

As for representation of constituents: you know? we once discussed in this blog the different options of electoral systems that could be adopted. If we are to move to a unified electoral district with proportional representation, or even a mixed electoral system, you will start to see parties (and here parties of national caliber) fielding runners up in all regions based on their program, and less based on where the runner up originally comes from.

I hope this explanation helps.

Charles Malik said...

The MP's are supposed to represent their sect in a specific district.
We do not have to wait for a non-sectarian or proportional representation system for this to happen.

Hariri was interested in serving Beirut. He ran in Beirut.
Berri serves the South. He runs in Zahrani. He doesn't run in Beirut, nor does he context the elections in the capital or Baabda.

We may not have the perfect system, but politicians should at least be able to name the streets in the place where they are elected. They should know the names of their constituents.

H. Nassif said...


An MP represents the whole nation not just his/her constituents. So he is supposed to serve/represent the whole country.

There are many deputies who were elected outside their districts of origin. Michel Aoun is one example (he is from baabda and was elected in keserwan), Nabih Berri is another example (bent jbel --> zahrani), and the list goes on to include around 25 deputies.

In addition, Elias Atallah is not foreign to Tripoli and the north. First, his wife is from tripoli, second his movement (the democratic left) has a relatively strong base in the north-2 district.

Tripoli is one of the poorest areas in Lebanon I think that a Leftist MP can best represent the social demands of the region .

Finally, LP, why did "the youth become disgusted with the Democratic Left". I felt the total opposite.

Best Regards

Anonymous said...

lebanon needs a leader like MR atallah we hoop that he will be elected president to have someone thta we can be proud he is our president .

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