Dividing Politics along Sectarian Lines in Lebanon

Anne Kierkegaard

Studenteropgave: Speciale


This master thesis in public administration focuses on the political system of Lebanon; its history, institutions and the effect thereof on current political contestation. The problem-formulation reads: How have the Lebanese citizens historically been articulated as religious subjects, and how does the subsequent political system limit the scope for political contestation? The thesis focuses on the political system‟s internal logic of how citizens should be represented politically. The empirical data is split between a historical and a present perspective – the division being before and after the Ta‟if Agreement. The historical perspective includes the four constitutional developments of 1) The Réglement Organique of 1861 2) The first constitution of Grand Liban 1926 3) The constitution of independent Lebanon and the parallel National Pact of 1943 4) The Ta‟if Agreement of 1989, and the constitutional amendments according to it in 1991. Through a method of problematization five different discursive identities are identified each offering their own problematization of Lebanon. The object of analysis is then how the interplay between these identities has constructed a particular logic of representation, based on the primacy of the religious subject. The present perspective looks at the electoral reform that was initiated in 2005, and ended with the adoption of a new electoral law in 2008 – as part of the Doha Agreement. Further, it looks at the rhetoric during the political parties‟ campaigns before the 2009 election. Lastly, different examples of civil society contestations are included. The object of analysis is the processes of maintenance and contestation of the historically instituted logic of representation. The theory applied is Laclau and Mouffe‟s discourse theory, based on ‟Hegemony and Socialist Strategy‟ (1985). Further, the analytical strategy is inspired by Glynos and Howarth‟s „Logics of Critical Explanation in Social and Political Theory‟ (2007). 3 The main conclusion of the paper is that the establishment of Lebanon as a state where the Christian community had special privileges is crucial for an understanding of the political system today. The religious subjectivity of the citizens has been instituted through a historical process, which began with a perceived primacy of the Christian subject. Second, political contestation today is set in narrow frames because all politicians represent specific religious communities, thereby excluding the secular subject from politics.

UddannelserForvaltning, (Bachelor/kandidatuddannelse) Kandidat
Udgivelsesdato21 maj 2010
VejledereNaja Vucina


  • Lebanon
  • sectarianism
  • discoursive identities