Will the Lebanese parliament elect a president today? 2023

Today, the Lebanese Parliament will pick a new president for the 12th time since 2022.

Marada party leader Sleiman Frangieh and former IMF regional director Jihad Azour are the leading contenders to succeed outgoing President Michel Aoun on Wednesday.

Why does this process keep failing?

Aoun resigned in October 2022 and should have been replaced before then.

Lebanon’s sectarian political structure and absence of a cohesive opposition in parliament make selecting a new leader difficult.

St Joseph University senior researcher and professor Wissam el-Lahham predicts another vote failure.

If Hezbollah and its supporters do not vote blank, the session might be a turning point for the country.

Who runs?

Since MPs can vote for anyone, it is hard to predict before the session who they would pick.

Frangieh and Azour appear to be competing in this round of voting.

Marada Party leader and grandson of former president Sleiman Frangieh. He was elected to parliament in 1991 to succeed his father and served three terms until 2005.

He became MP for Maronite Zgharta al-Zawiyah in 2009. Tony Frangieh, his son, succeeded him in 2018.

Jihad Azour lacks political knowledge. He was Fouad Saniora’s minister of finance from 2005 to 2008 and the IMF’s Middle East and North Africa regional director until last week.

Hezbollah and the Amal Movement had supported Frangieh for months, but Azour lately gained backing from the Free Patriotic Movement and other opposition groups.

Michel Moawad, head of the Independence Movement and son of former president Rene Moawad, won the majority of votes in prior sessions but never reached quorum.

Tomorrow’s session may possibly include former interior minister Ziad Baroud.

Job requirements?

The 1943 National Pact, an unwritten agreement amongst Lebanon’s political blocs, requires the president to be Maronite Christian.

The National Pact requires Maronite presidents and army commanders, Sunni Muslim prime ministers, and Shia Muslim parliament speakers, based on a 1930s census.

The deputy speaker of parliament and deputy prime minister are Greek Orthodox Christians, whereas the armed forces chief of general staff is invariably Druze.

A 6:5 Christian-Muslim-Druze proportion applies to MPs.

Voting: how?

To elect a new leader in the first round, Parliament needs 86 of 128 legislators, or two-thirds.

If MPs disagree on a candidate, they might vote with symbolic slogans or nominate a different candidate to send a political statement.

El-Lahham told Al Jazeera that no contender will win two-thirds of the vote in the first round on Wednesday.

The contestant needs 65 MPs to win the second round.

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