Lebanon’s 134 MPs

Because 128 MPs was a strange number. Because minorities need to be represented. Because a country of slightly south of 4 million must have a tiny voter to MP ratio. Because there’s no need for common sense. We now have 134 MPs.

And what a beautiful proposition that is. I read somewhere that Samy Gemayel is the mastermind behind such a proposal. He must be so proud of himself, I bet. And for good reasons too! I’m more than sure that Mr. Gemayel didn’t think of the brilliantly smart repercussions that his proposal has. So let me illustrate them for him:

  1. Less unemployment! 6 more people will now enter the parliament. That’s 6 more people with a job – or not, perhaps, since parliament does nothing over here except bicker like high school drama queens.
  2. More millionaires! Constant paychecks till the day they die? Sign them up! The queue is already stretching till Timbuktu.
  3. Minorities ❤ ❤
  4. Did I mention minorities?

What a shame though that the extra seats won’t have any for us Maronites. This is totally unacceptable. But I’m willing to let it slide seeing as for the first time in a long, long time our country’s politicians agreed on something. This is an unbelievable feat in itself seeing as they won’t agree on a way to vote for these extra people. They agreed to increase the numbers of their kind. How far-fetched. How honorable. How selfless, how holy, how riveting, how *insert sublime adjective of choice.* Instead of voting for 126 empty chairs, we are now voting for 134.

Because minorities that’s why. That’s the only reason why anyone would want to commit to this step. And if you speak against this, then you are targeting all those Lebanese minorities whose future is in jeopardy in the country of minorities.

You can go on and on and analyze this step that our governing bodies decided upon in a “serious” tone. You can tear the fact that this is maybe the only part of the “Orthodox Gathering” law which will actually pass. But when it comes to a country of unparalleled absurdity, the only way to address things is through silliness.

The American congress has 435 members for a country of more than 300 million. But Lebanon is a case of special needs. So because 128 geniuses were not enough, we now have 134.

 

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Lebanon… The Diesel Exporter

Our race towards oil exportation has suddenly raced lightyears ahead! Who knew we’d start sending out fuel to neighboring countries in February 2013? Suck on it, Israel!

I can’t believe I’m actually saying this but for once I congratulate the thugs of Tripoli for what they did this morning as they ruined what some politicians had hoped would be an easy travel of diesel tanks into Syria.

Gebran Bassil, minister of energy in Lebanon’s famed “neutral” government, has been sending copious amounts of diesel to help the Syrian regime in its war. Let’s disregard for a moment that this is breaking a multitude of international sanctions regarding Syria, especially when it comes to energy. Let’s ignore for a second that this diesel will end up in tanks whose only job these days is to kill as many innocent people as possible.

This neutrality policy that our government speaks of exists how exactly? Let’s stop hiding behind that vine leave and say it: neutrality my ass.

Our PM Najib Mikati is the only one in this government who truly wants a neutrality stance regarding Syria. Everyone else is either rooting for the regime secretly or is part of parties which are actively fighting with the regime, their people coming back here in body bags. But don’t let them think we know.

Our government’s neutrality position regarding Syria is akin to a class of students where everyone is talking except the teacher – and we tell everyone the class has model behavior.

I am appalled that people in our government can actually fathom sending diesel to help a regime in committing countless and growing war crimes. I am appalled that we are sending fuel to the Assad regime instead of giving this diesel for needy people across Lebanon – because killing Syrians definitely trumps whatever that fuel could be used for here.

Gebran Bassil – the parliament member wannabe who will lose for the third consecutive time this election round – should stick to bringing electricity boats over here and spewing sectarian and racist hatred instead of becoming an accomplice to wars and dragging the whole country with him. After all, it’s not only about diesel. It’s about the confrontation that sending diesel to Syria means in a country that is barely holding it together with its deep division over the Syrian matter.

Roum Catholic? – The First 2013 Elections Ad

The ministry of internal affairs has started its preparatory campaign for the 2013 elections by telling people to check their name on the voters lists before March 10th, which I told you to do a few days ago (link).

As part of its attempt at getting the Lebanese voter to feel more involved, especially that it pertains to bureaucratic stuff most people don’t want to feel concerned with, they have launched the following funny ad, which plays on the different types of Lebanese people who might be “violated” by errors on the lists:

The last 2 seconds of the ad are beyond hilarious, which is probably what might get some people to go to this website (link) and check if their name is correctly listed.

And if you thought the Roum Catholic part is far-fetched, just check out this screenshot (link) from the lists of my hometown.

PS: They are brothers.

The Best Way To Start an Electoral Campaign in Lebanon

It was May 2012 and I had a death in the family. This necessitates being in church for a lot of time which I normally spend just being “there,” not really useful and not able to leave because that’s a big no-no.

Part of Christian funeral “traditions” is the family of the deceased getting flower arrangements that will be put on the grave once the funeral and the burial are done. If the deceased is part of a bigger establishment, they get a flower arrangement from there as well. If the deceased was active politically or have politically active offspring, they get a flower arrangement from their corresponding politician of choice.

And sometimes, there are flower arrangements which leave you baffled as to who that person is. As I said, it was May 2012 and as I screened the flowers, I noticed a name that didn’t seem familiar to me: Sandrella Merhej.

I asked around and almost no one knew who she was – until I ran into a staunch FPM supporter who said the main attorney was on Fayez Karam’s treason case.

Fast forward a few months later, to December 2012, and another death in the family. And there it was – the infamous Flower Cross:

Sandrella Merhej FPM Batroun Elections 2013

 

The key difference between December and May 2012 is that the arrangement which everyone found odd and strange back then now made sense. She wasn’t a stranger anymore – she had become a household name. She didn’t use social media. She didn’t inundate everyone with ads.

It only involved a bouquet. Sandrella Merhej had actively kickstarted an electoral campaign with her doing absolutely nothing.

 

She doesn’t have to be present at the funeral as many other politicians do. I bet she doesn’t even know who the people who died are. Odds are she has some sort of deal with a local florist to send an arrangement to every single funeral in the whole district. As a result, very few are those across Batroun today who don’t know who Sandrella Merhej is.

They have no idea where she stands on some key issues. They probably don’t know yet where she stands politically. But she’s in a much better place, reputation-wise, than where Gebran Bassil and Antoine Zahra were in 2005, when they were both running for the first time.

People love it when politicians, or politician-wannabes in Sandrella Merhej’s case, acknowledge their sadness during funerals. It makes them feel relevant and actually gets them to think that politician truly cares about their strife and that he – or she – are not just there for electoral purposes.

I personally couldn’t care less if a politician attends a funeral of a person I cherish or not. But I’m the exception. In fact, many people in Batroun hold it against Antoine Zahra that he doesn’t do funerals. Many won’t be voting for him precisely because of that. I find it sad that voting – or not voting for someone – revolves around them making the time to attend something they’re not even supposed to attend when there are so many other things that could stop them from voting for a politician.

But I digress.

Today, Sandrella Merhej’s name is a frontrunner to be on the FPM ticket with Gebran Bassil. She fits the bill – she comes from one of Batroun’s towns at a higher altitude – the poor thing has to go against Boutros Harb. A lot of people now know who she is. And by the looks of it, she is a staunch FPM member. A three in one combo? Apparently so. Of course, her nomination is not set in stone. There are other names being jumped around but out of them all, she might be the most interesting: a newcomer, who was relatively unknown less than a few months ago. Now everyone knows her name.

Whether she will win or not, however, is an entirely different story. Entre nous, the chance of her ticket winning in my district is dismal at best – almost nonexistent actually.

Check Out Lebanon’s 2013 Voters Lists

We may not have an electoral law yet but our elections will happen regardless. And despite many of us saying that we won’t vote now, come June (or July if there’s a slight delay), we will all be heading to the polls to cast our votes.

The ministry of interior affairs has just published the lists of the 2013 elections eligible voters (لوائح الشطب ) and speaking from experience, it’s always better to check if your name is there or if there’s any mistake in advance in order to avoid any surprises come election day.

1 – Go to the website (here). It doesn’t support firefox so make sure you’re using Safari or Chrome or – God forbid – Internet Explorer.

2 – Go to the “voters list” section (القوائم الإنتخابية) and choose your mohafazat.

Lebanon Voting Elections 2013 - 23 – Next, choose your district. In my case, it’s Batroun.

Lebanon Voting Elections 2013 - 34 – Choose your village. Ebrine, in my case.

Lebanon Voting Elections 2013 - 45 – Choose your gender and sect.

My town has Sunnis. Unacceptable.

My town has Sunnis. Unacceptable.

The list corresponding to the sect, gender and town you chose will then be made available. If you are an expat who registered at an embassy, your name will have a remark indicating that you have chosen to vote abroad:

Lebanon Voting Elections 2013 - 6

If you’re not an expat, locate your name and make sure it doesn’t have any mistakes in your birthdate, father’s name, mother’s name or even your own name:

There's me

There’s me

I personally had a problem with my mother’s name on the list which missed one dot, making her name totally different. I spoke to the mokhtar about it but he dismissed it as irrelevant and didn’t fix it. Remembering a story when a friend of mine was not allowed to vote by some political observers because his mother’s name was wrong on the list, I didn’t let it go and while giving fingerprints for my new ID at my district’s Serail, I asked to have my mother’s name fixed and it was.

Don’t worry, fixing anything wrong with your registration is not a hassle. Just have some form of identification with you, an ID or a recent ikhraj eid, and head to your nearest “ma2mour l noufous” and they’ll be more than glad to sort things out.

As an example, a relative whose name appears on the list for the first time this year has her mother’s name all wrong. If she hadn’t checked the list, she wouldn’t have known that and she would have been not allowed to vote come election day. Another friend, who’s my age, doesn’t even have his name registered yet. Seeing as the lists are readily available online till March, it is our duty to make sure that human errors do not keep us from voting.

Myriam Klink To Run for Lebanon’s 2013 Elections

Myriam Klink and her revolution took it to her Facebook profile (link) to announce that she will be running for the Orthodox seat in Metn in Lebanon’s upcoming 2013 elections. She joins another model-turned-politician-wannabe called Nathalie Fadlallah who runs a modeling agency in seeking a parliamentary seat in the Northern district of Koura.

Klink wants to go parliament in a super mini skirt and give people electricity and development. I know a few things that will get “developed” in parliament if she wins. If you know what I mean.

Myriam Klink Elections 2013 Lebanon

 

 

With the current political blockade of the country Klink doesn’t stand a chance if she goes through with her plan. But I actually agree with a few points that she raised there especially when it comes to women rights. She may not be nowhere near qualified, not that most of our MPs actually are, but she might as well bring a breath of fresh air – no pun – to parliament.

So the hell with it – why not have Klink run for elections?

Lebanon’s 2013 Elections Campaigns: Khlosna Ba2a

While politicians from Lebanon’s two main political camps bicker over an electoral law they can’t wait to disagree upon, the campaigns to kick off the 2013 election season have begun with “Khlosna Ba2a” – Enough is enough.

The main party behind the campaign is the National Dialogue Party (NDP), spear-headed by engineer and businessman Fouad Makhzoumi who’s a known philanthropist.

The campaign aims to show what I think the majority of Lebanese believe and it’s our utter disgust at the current situation of the country: corruption, immigration, violence, dismal economical prospects, lack of proper dialogue, entrenched sectarianism. And the list goes on.

While I believe that such campaigns, similarly to Take Back Parliament, should have been started a long time ago and not only a few months before the elections in order to rally people and have a functional grass-root movement to get their votes, it’s still nice to see that there’s at least potential for alternative candidates spread around the country who would run based on qualifications not based on how big their family is or how faithful to a corresponding party they are.

Either way, I believe that the coming few weeks will start seeing more electoral campaigns kicking off as the electoral law should – theoretically – be known by then. And I believe the least we can expect is interesting slogans. The least we can hope for is less “Sois Belle et Vote” this time around and more intelligent messages such as “Khlosna Ba2a.”

Here are the other ads in the campaign so far:

We’re sick of corruption and sectarianism. Enough is enough.

Our only option is dialogue. Enough is enough.

We want to stay in Lebanon. Enough is enough.