The July 2012 Kourah By-Elections: When the Concept of Democracy Escapes the SSNP

Fadi Karam posters are everywhere on the North Lebanon highway

12 days from now, the northern caza “Al Kourah” is going to have a round of elections to elect an MP to replace Farid Habib, who passed away from cancer back in May.
The build up to the elections was interesting to watch. The first question that came up on the political scene soon after the parliementary seat became vacant: would elections take place?

The LF, who had previously won the seat, decided that their party will proceed with the elections. Therefore, based on their new internal laws, consultations took place with high ranking officials of their base in Kourah and they chose Fadi Karam, a dentist and former head of the Order of dentists in North Lebanon.

Soon after Karam was chosen, the SSNP decided that this is a direct confrontation for them. Why’s that? Because Karam is from their base town Amyoun. They considered it as a direct challenge from the LF for them to nominate someone from Amioun. They, therefore, decided to have a candidate run for the Kourah elections. Not because they wanted to. But because they were “forced” to by a blatant act of defiance.

What the SSNP seems to have totally evaded is the concept of democracy. The notion that in an election people who meet certain legal criteria can run regardless of where they are from is not in the SSNP directory. I guess Antoun Saadeh missed that part in whatever party principles they are obviously not following.

I wonder, had the LF nominated someone from Dhour el Shweir, wouldn’t they have considered it an act of defiance as well? Better yet, had the LF nominated someone from Bterram, another town in Kourah where the SSNP have great influence, wouldn’t they have considered it an act of defiance too?

Why hide behind lame excuses when you want to test the ground for the 2013 elections as much as your opponent?

The SSNP also declared that they would have had no problem letting the elections go for a win by default for a lone candidate ┬áhad the LF kept their candidate in MP Farid Habib’s family by either nominating his wife or son. Apparently they believe the seat “belongs” to that family since it was only taken from them by death.

Now I have to ask the SSNP, where was this “we respect the dead” attitude when Amin Gemayel was running against an unknown FPM candidate for the seat vacated by the assassination of his son in Metn? Or does it only apply in places where the chance of the SSNP winning are next to none?

Yes, their candidate has no chance of winning in Kourah.

Moreover, why should the concept of a seat belonging to a “family” be even a part of the discussion to begin with? The seat belongs to the citizens of Kourah. It would be a grave insult to their rights not to have the correct path of electoral democracy take place and have one candidate thrown on them forcibly just because some parties are too afraid to lose inexistant momentum a year before the 2013 parliemntary elections.

As part of their campaign, the SSNP are also busy reminding the voters of el Kourah about the LF’s militia past – about how the LF (and the LF alone) killed their sons and children way back when. Let alone the fact that this is nowhere near true (the SSNP had its fair share of atrocities done all across Lebanon and them pretending otherwise would be an a insult to voters’ intelligence), but what good does it do to bring forth into the conversation a civil war people shouldn’t even take into consideration with their votes anymore?

Does the SSNP even know that Fadi Karam was not a militant with the LF during the civil war? Do they know he rose among the ranks of the party after Samir Geagea was released from prison in 2005? Do they know he represents a rising class of LF politicians and enthusiasts who absolutely have nothing to do with the war?

Yet the SSNP is throwing a war Karam had nothing to do with on his shoulders. If you can’t beat them at the polls, beat their reputation with lies, obviously.

In a democratic country like Lebanon – regardless of what you think about this type of democracy – making a big deal out of the village a candidate was born in is unacceptable. Making a big deal of having been “forced” into elections is unacceptable. Making a big deal out of everything but the issues at hand is unacceptable.

You don’t want to run for elections? Then don’t. Don’t whine endlessly about irrelevant reasons for you deciding to run.

Come July 15th, the citizens of Kourah have such a clear choice in front of them it’s even silly to point it out. But regardless, what July 15th should and will be is a triumph for democracy and freedom over the concept of hate and cowardice.