The Taif Agreement called for the creation of a Senate, and the de-confessionalisation of the chamber of deputies.
I think this hiwar would make an excellent Senate, if properly implemented. Not only will it give the religious communities some participation in politics, it will also eliminate the resistance to de-confessionalising the Parliament.
I agree with this assessment, but I do have some worries - especially considering the way the Hiwar sessions have played out.
A lot of Lebanese (some even on this blog) openly question the benefits of a Confessional Senate and a Deconfessional Chamber of Deputies because they argue that the Chamber will simply revert to a rubber-stamp body. The real politics, they argue, will play out in the Senate, and the Chamber's significance will be parallel to that of the AUB student government.
The Hiwar sessions have reinforced that fear. Not only have they completely overshadowed Parliament, but the sessions have replaced Parliament and its institutions altogether. Ask yourselves: when was the last time you heard of MP Mosbah el Ahdab? This despite his relatively prominent role in the March 14 movement. What about Samir Franjieh?
If their fate is what awaits a parliament that shares political space with the Lebanese Senate, then to hell with the Senate. We may as well live with one legislative body without the distraction created by another rubber stamp body.
On the other hand, the potential of a Senate simply cannot be ignored. The following are some words of advice that need to be taken to heart especially considering the way politics have played out over the past year.
"If implemented correctly," unanimity will not be the prerequisite to passing laws or voting for Presidents in the Senate. This ridiculous notion that we all have to come to agreement on certain "strategic," "life or death" issues is ridiculous!
Minorities can be protected by laws, not by manipulating, or altogether disposing of Democratic institutions. The Senate must work on a majority-minority basis, as opposed to unanimity, which merely leads to the grid-lock we have become all-to-familiar with today.
In fact, this notion that we need unanimity is one of the most significant successes of Hizballah over the past year.
...The majority can go ahead and excercise its rights, but it will have to deal with the consequences...
I wonder what they mean by "consequences!" This type of behavior cannot continue in Lebanon.
In fact, the dilemma of "who is Lebanese or what constitutes Lebanese interests" can be answered in a very simple fashion. A politician behaves in Lebanon's interests when she or he accepts the output of its political institutions. In other words, if you loose a political battle you fought (fair and square) under existing rules, you must accept defeat and move on. If you win, good for you.
No cause ought to be "holier" than the institutions because it is the institutions that manifest the idea of Lebanon in the realm of reality! Only then will a Senate work.