Can the election save Lebanon from bankruptcy?

It would be best if a foreign country like France re-controlled Lebanon. At least things work there – a woman gave me a surprising solution to my country’s problems during my visit to Berjún in December. Disillusionment with the political elite has since grown as the economic crisis deepens, with few believing that Sunday’s parliamentary elections could change anything about Lebanon’s fate.

The Middle Eastern country of just ten thousand square kilometers, with a population of roughly six million, is a prisoner of its own political system. The last time a census was held was in 1932, and the papers were distributed based on the demographic situation at the time: based on this, the president was a Maronite Christian, the prime minister a Sunni Muslim, and the president a Shiite Muslim.

But since then, the proportions have changed dramatically, and today there are many more Muslims, especially Shiites.

Photo: Árpád Kurucz

However, another census is not being held, as it would upset the already fragile status quo. The majority, on the other hand, voted primarily on the basis of religious affiliation, as was already the case in the last election in 2018, where Shiite Hezbollah and their allies pocketed the most votes. They are expected to strengthen further this year after former Sunni Prime Minister Sad Hariri retired from politics and his party representatives set out as independent or called for a boycott.

While the members of the religiously divided legislature – and the powers behind them – are fighting each other, the primary task of the new government would be to find a solution to the crisis that has not been experienced since the civil war of 1975-1990. First and foremost, meet the reform requirements of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), to which they agreed to disburse the $ 3 billion credit line agreed in April. At the same time, prove it to France and the West, which is also demanding political settlement and transparency in the disbursement of aid.

Lebanon, once referred to as the Middle East Switzerland, has now gone bankrupt, only being held afloat by the populous foreign diaspora.

The main reason for this is that a US dollar fixed in the exchange rate is worth 1,500 Lebanese pounds. But the country’s real economic performance has lagged far behind to cover this, so when foreign creditors shut down the taps and the coronavirus epidemic broke out, the bubble burst. The Lebanese pound, and with it the value of salaries, has fallen sharply to one-twentieth, currently worth roughly 27,000 Lebanese pounds per dollar. The 2020 Beirut blast, which claimed two hundred lives, came as a pardon, and those responsible have not been found to date.

Photo: Europress / AFP

Meanwhile, the country’s economy is placing a huge burden on more than two million refugees, mainly Syrians and Palestinians. Today, the situation has deteriorated to the point where the UN estimates that 70 percent of the population lives below the poverty line.

And even then came the war in Ukraine, which has serious consequences for Lebanon, with more than 80 percent of its grain imports coming from Ukraine and Russia.

If shipments that have already been missed cannot be replaced at a similar price from another source, even famine can add to the trouble.


Source: Magyar Nemzet by magyarnemzet.hu.

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