Two Revolutionary Projects in Lebanon and Turkey
Hassan Haydar
Al-Hayat - 03/05/07//

MP Michel Aoun's call for holding presidential elections in Lebanon through direct popular vote, and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's to elect the president of the republic directly by the people, involve two revolutionary projects which undermine the meaning of the "State" in both countries and that of the Constitution. This Constitution protects the meaning of the "State", strikes a balance between the society's components and stands in the face of deeming easy any attack on that meaning whenever such an attack seems to be a convenient means of forcing any one party's will on others.

Despite the differences between the two regimes in Lebanon and Turkey, the similarity lies in their attempt to break the shackles of the law and annul the role of the legislative institution when one party finds it difficult to ascend the throne and another finds it tough to impose its full authority. Aoun doesn't seem to see any glimpse of hope in winning the presidential elections, due within months under the current Parliament which enjoys an unrelenting legitimacy and of which Aoun is a member. He thinks that the solution lies in a constitutional change that might make his dream come true "at least once". On the other hand, Erdogan, whose Islamic Party does not have complete authority over the state through Parliament, wants to dodge the role of the legislative institution and its competences also through changing the constitution.

Perhaps Aoun's call is inspired by the mandatory constitutional amendment which extended the current president's term under the Syrian military presence. Aoun considered resorting to a course of intimidation giving the Lebanese nation a choice between polls or bullets, making a point of being a man of the "resistance". Yet, the Parliament member, whose political life didn't make him forget being a General, is grossly contradicting himself in many ways; for instance, he calls for early parliamentary elections, then eats his words when his popularity goes down claiming that "confidence is a proxy given to a member of Parliament in order to represent the authorizer until the next elections". Why does that apply to him and not to the majority members? Once more he contradicts himself as he appeals for a decision to be made by the "popular majority", alluding to his Shiite allies. However, he refuses to attest to the "cliché" of Christians becoming a minority in Lebanon, saying that, "It is not a matter of numbers", because that's exactly what the majority is trying to communicate to him when it stands up for the Ta'ef Agreement. This agreement set the foundation for harmony between the Lebanese people in a way that goes beyond the sizes of sects and the number of its electors paving the way for establishing a "secular" partnership so to speak, and protecting diversity against the danger of monopolization which undoes the meaning of Lebanon.

The capricious Aoun is then ready to change his mottos on the spot as long as this serves his purpose of occupying the presidential seat because, in his practices, the end justifies the means. Nevertheless, the Lebanese people who have become well aware of his tactics when he was heading the infamous military government, and bore the consequences of his blunders and temperament won't make the mistake of the "experience of the experienced".

As for Erdogan's party which managed to head the government, owing to the elections which awarded it a majority in Parliament, it is all set to back out on this institution in case it would not help extend its authority throughout the country, and wage a war against the judiciary authority which is inspired by and protects the constitution. This scheme not only endangers the stability of Turkey, but also threatens to thwart the eternal dream of the Turks of joining the European Union. Aoun and Erdogan are two revolutionary projects working against the clock and do not bode well