Kollouna Watani’s Joumana Haddad & Paula Yacoubian Are Now Parliament Members

Update: Somehow, since the writing of this post Joumana Haddad ended up losing. No comment.

On a more than depressing electoral day, a glimmer of hope that started two years ago with Beirut Madinati in Beirut –  1 translated into both Joumana Haddad and Paula Yacoubian becoming parliament members tonight, the first two ever civil society candidates to enter Lebanese parliament.

Joumana Haddad’s win for the minorities seat also makes her the first openly atheist member of Lebanese parliament, and possibly the entire Middle East, where atheism is still considered a crime in many countries.

The win of Kollouna Watani in Beirut – 1 comes at the heel of very poor turn out almost uniformly throughout the country. In fact, depressingly enough, the win of Kollouna Watani is because turnout in Beirut – 1 was the poorest in the entire country, a shame when you take in consideration that the last time we voted was 2009.

Both Joumana and Paula deserve their win. They worked tremendously over the past several months to raise their profile, scream for the change they want, and they did not take any vote for granted as many political parties seem to have done.

Change for the country started in Achrafieh, even if on the overall this election leaves me with a tinge of disappointment.

What I discovered today, after voting for Kollouna Watani last week in North 3, and then having all the Civil Society lists not even make the count on TVs because they were thrown into irrelevant is that 1) we live in a bubble, and 2) I don’t think our fellow Lebanese really want the change that we want this country to have.

To be sitting in front of my computer thousands of miles away and be utterly flabbergasted at how people just didn’t care was mind-boggling. Why was I, the Lebanese who already left, more interested in how things went than those who stayed? This sense of apathy, this mind-numbness that we’ve all exhibited is just sad, and it’s quite literally across the board, across all parties, across all regions.

And yet, I was proud of my hometown giving nearly as many votes for Layal Bou Moussa as they did to the Kataeb candidate, and proud that my candidate was the top candidate on the Kollouna Watani list in North 3. Those 90 votes in Ebrine are worth hundreds in my eyes.

Today, the Lebanese people are tired everyone and everything, that’s what these elections have shown. From the poor performance of El 3ahd’s lists, to even the performance of civil society lists outside of Beirut 1. Today showed that even our pleas for change were not enough for most of the Lebanese population to go and do something about it.

Some had their reasons, I bet. But others just sank in the complacency of thinking things will always be the same. This abhorrent freak of an electoral law, whose sole purpose it seems is to have Gebran Bassil become a representative for Batroun, didn’t help either. For the record, #NotMyNeyeb.

Instead, we settle for cheering for the least of evils. We go back to basics, but I did what I can.

A bunch of good people made it to parliament today, as well. Of those, I mention Ziad Hawat – the former Mayor of Jbeil who turned his city into a top Lebanese destination. I also mention Antoine Habchi whose victory in Baalbak-Hermel was truly the other highlight of these elections. A lot of women made it to parliament today as well, other than Paula and Joumana. The list includes Sethrida, Bahia el Hariri, and Inaya Ezzedine in the South. Hopefully even more female candidates will end up as winners once the tally is done.

On the other hand, Jamil el Sayyed who was the right hand of Syria’s occupation of the country, and whose real place is in jail, also gained a parliament seat thanks to the Shiite duo whose electoral performances truly strengthened the nature of the thoughts they’re perpetuating in the country. Their “either you’re with us or you’re a traitor” mantra, their “it’s your religious duty to vote for us” slogans are cancerous.

Another thing that today showed is that, when you try to have “modern” laws the least you can do is provide a modern voting experience. Everyone was complaining about how slow the process was, something I had spoken about last week here:

And yet, despite that no measures were made to make sure that people didn’t stand in lines for hours to cast a vote. We needed more booths at each polling place, the process has to be streamlined, and more importantly the law had to be explained to the average voter much more efficiency. But then again, it’s been nearly 8 hours that they’ve closed the polls and we don’t even have results yet.

Setting aside the romance, today Lebanon’s civil society has managed to get only about 20-30,000 votes across the entire country. This is not enough. And I frankly don’t know where to go from here. Perhaps the work of Joumana and Paula will get people to wake up to what they should be demanding of traditional parties, which puts more pressure on them.

Or perhaps we’re just too far gone as people, too entrenched in our ways to really learn that this candidate who’s providing us with a job today only does so because their policies deprived us of jobs for years, or that this candidate giving us food or money today is doing that because they made sure we were poor and starving leading up to that point.

Today, I’m proud of the choice I made. I don’t regret it at all, even if it’s going to be taken out of their equations, thrown into a bin never to be looked at again. And I hope that me going beyond my traditional party lines is proof that we can all do it if we believe that we deserve the changed country that befits us.

Tousbi7oun 3ala watan. Or not.


5 thoughts on “Kollouna Watani’s Joumana Haddad & Paula Yacoubian Are Now Parliament Members

  1. As an avid reader of your posts, let me just state few things:
    – It’s a shame when you consider Lebanese Forces as the ‘least of the evils’ and I am deeply surprised that you didn’t even mention what they were doing the whole day in Zahle and other places. Ask Myriam Skeif, she would tell you!
    – It’s a shame too when you consider yourself against ALL political parties, yet you praised someone like Ziad Hawat, who bankrupted the municipality of Jbeil and no sir, he didn’t turn Jbeil into a top destination. Jbeil has always been a top destination. Plus he is a Lebanese Forces member since last week. Eza ken hal2ad good w byeshteghel, why not work with Koullouna Watanu? They had a list in Jbeil.
    This is a really disappointing article coming from you Elie. I do not blame you though. You don’t live in Lebanon anymore, maybe you don’t have more time for research anymore.
    Have a good night!


    • Hey Antonio,

      I was talking about the lesser evil in my district. I am not an expert about other districts to judge who they should or should not vote for.

      That said, with all political parties, the opinion or behavior of some affiliated members is not really official policy, whether it’s them or FPM or whatever.

      Re Hawat, he was re-elected 2 years ago with over 94% of the vote in Jbeil, a major city, effectively giving him a mandate. I am not from Jbeil, and therefore find statements as “he bankrupted the municipality” to be overly bombastic for no reason. What I can attest to is that he’s done a lot to his city, which as an outsider who lived 15min away can vouch for.

      Ultimately, you are free to your opinion of course. But this is not a research article, it’s my opinion on what happened yesterday/today.


  2. Dear Elias,
    Change is frightening to most of the population . Those who were still suffering from corruption and unemployment set aside the worst condition of life standards thought that having their “leader” again is still better than not having one at all. Brainwash is the master of the game. Quoting them here” if you dont vote for us, you will lose your identity”.” Others will take you to the unknown.” Their fear and their blind loyalty leave them followers with dead brains.
    On a another hand, Lebanese people are tired, depressed and shortsighted. They dont Believe that anything will change.
    It is a dead end to them.
    One of the most educated person I know told me: Even if the Civil community reaches the parliament, they will become either like them or be suppressed and cornered to tie their hands from doing anything to this numb population.
    This being said, just tell me how this country will evolve to the better. For more than 3 decades those in power are still in power.
    This country is doomed. And they open for us only doors to leave or morphine to stay.
    I am an activist fighting to help the needy and my goal is to get any possible help for them. This is my reward.
    Other than that, I hate this country (my country) for what it ends up to be. A mafia place, a dot on the map for proxy wars, a valley of litter and dirt . A place in a world for dead people and ghosts.



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