Tony from Across the Bay has been critical of the past two Al-Mustaqbal editorials claiming they are focusing more on the Christian component of the electoral race. The answer is simple--the alliances that the Future Movement is striking purely revolve around their alliance with the Lebanese Forces/Qornet Shehwan/Bristol Gathering representatives and of course other Sunni politicians. Therefore, the debate will clearly revolve around the Christian component.
Moreover, Aoun is only fielding Christian runners-up, as opposed to other regions. So, again, the race will inevitably be coined as that of Aoun's/Franjieh's candidates versus those of LF/QS.
Remember, Omar Karami opted out of the race as well as the Jama'a Al-Islamiyya, hence leaving Franjieh and Aoun (both Christian figures) to pick the Sunni/Orthodox/Alawite allies to complete their list for the second electoral district (namely Tripoli, Zgharta, Batroun, and Koura), which again puts the spotlight on the Christians.
So...the north is different indeed. Jumblatt can talk as much as he wants (though Khashan's Al-Mustaqbal editorial today did propose that he tone down his rhetoric), he will not affect the north elections in no way, except perhaps push some Christian voters to opt for the Aoun/Franjieh list. Further, the talk of the Shiite component will naturally be absent at the moment because Hizbullah/Amal do not assume any leadership role in the north region.
I suspect that naturally we will be reading and hearing more debates during this week being coined as follows:
- With Taif (LF) vs. Against Taif (FPM)
- Loyalists (Roumouz Al-Sulta) vs. Opposition/Bristol
- Future vs. Others
- Outsiders vs. Locals
- Moderates (QS) vs. Extremism (Franjieh/Aoun)
And please I would appreciate it if I could get more input for the list of potential debates.
On another level, this is the all new, unchartered territory for the Future Movement by the way. That is the first time a Hariri visits Tripoli and addresses its peoples. Moreover, if the Future Movement allied with LF in the Jabal (first time that Future allies with LF), Hariri was flanked by Jumblatt. Now, the LF-Hariri alliance stands out in the north and has to be aggressively justified and mainstreamed to both the Christian and Sunni voters, but in a way this new alliance symbolizes a step forward in national reconciliation and towards cementing the Taif mandate. Future Movement, therefore, is taking a leap of faith and hopes that the northerners head the call for change.
That is also the first time that a Sunni figure from Saida not only manages to enter the hearts of Beirutis (it took Beirutis a long time to accept Hariri as a Beiruti) and to win the hearts of the Bekai's, but is also reaching out to consolidate his popularity in the north.
And you know how our country is; it's a tiny place, but we can be hyper-localists and parochialists. Hariri now is giving the northerners a choice for something different, not a Franjieh, not a Karami, not a Mirehbi, not that historical patron-client relationship; he's providing an alternative. And somehow I believe that many northerners, especially those who are cosmopolitan, see Lebanon as a whole and do not mind "outsiders", if those outsiders have a plan to move the region towards development, a region that has long been neglected by its local leaders, a region suffering from high unemployment rates, high incidence of emigration, and delapidated social and economic infrastructure.
"Nobody knows how many rebellions, besides political rebellions, ferment in the masses of life which people earth."