Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Lebanon The Model

Is there already a democracy in the Middle East that can inspire the citizens of other countries in the region? Michael Totten thinks so:
From a distance Lebanon may look like a typical Middle East country racked with the usual chaos, but it isn't. What makes this place unique is that the Lebanese political system is nearly incapable of producing dictatorship. The three main sects in this country--Christian, Sunni, and Shiite--do not share the same political ideals and values. They do, however, share power, since every group here is a minority. By tradition, the president is always a Christian, the prime minister a Sunni, and the speaker of Parliament a Shiite. Parliament decides who fills the top three government posts, and members of Parliament are elected by the people of Lebanon. Each sect's parliamentary bloc keeps the others in check. The result is a weak state and a de facto near-libertarianism. Syria and Iraq, which also are composed of rival ethnic-religious sects, may do well under a similar system.