Consociationalism and Political Parties in the Middle East

  • Citation: Fakhoury, Tamirace, and Fidaa Al-Fakih. “Consociationalism and Political Parties in the Middle East: The Lebanese Case.” In Routledge Handbook on Political Parties in the Middle East and North Africa, edited by Francesco Cavatorta, Lise Storm, and Valeria Resta. Routledge, 2020.
    • Topics:
    • Regional Studies
    • Keywords:
    • political parties
    • Lebanon
    • Middle East
    • sectarian representation
    • governance

How do political parties govern in consociational or power-sharing systems built on sectarian representation in the Middle East? And how do they cooperate or clash on contentious policy issues? This chapter explores the key characteristics of Lebanon’s political parties and their behaviour in the small polity’s sectarian-based model of politics. It argues that political parties constitute key conduits for perpetuating and reproducing Lebanon’s politics of sectarianism, which crystallises group identities and enshrines antagonistic governance. To examine some of the ways through which Lebanon’s political parties have nurtured divided loyalties and created gridlock in governance, we examine political parties’ polarised stances and behaviour in the context of Syria’s neighbouring war since 2011. By cementing divisive agendas serving various geostrategic interests, political parties enact and deploy power at the expense of programmatic agendas and national policies.

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