Browse the listing below to find government information for Lebanon, including flags, leaders,
and constitution information. Factrover also has complete information on Lebanon at its
Lebanon Country Page.
Type: Parliamentary republic.
Constitution: May 26, 1926 (amended).
Branches: Executive--president (chief of state, elected by simple majority of parliament for 6-year term), council of ministers (appointed). Legislative--unicameral parliament (128-member National Assembly elected for 4-year and renewable terms; last parliamentary elections in 2000 (with an exceptional term of 4 years and 8 months). Judicial--secular and religious courts; combination of Ottoman, civil, and canon law; limited judicial review of legislative acts.
Administrative subdivisions: Eight provinces, each headed by a governor: Beirut, North Lebanon, South Lebanon, Mount Lebanon, Nabatiyah, Akkar, Ba’labakk-Hirmil, and Bekaa.
Political parties: Organized along sectarian lines around individuals whose followers are motivated primarily by religious, clan, and ethnic considerations.
Suffrage: 21 years.
Government of Lebanon
Lebanon is a parliamentary democracy in which the people constitutionally have the right to change their government. However, from the mid-1970s until the parliamentary elections in 1992, civil war precluded the exercise of political rights. According to the constitution, direct elections must be held for the parliament every 4 years. Parliament, in turn, elects a president every 6 years. The last presidential election was in 1998. The president and parliament choose the prime minister. Political parties may be formed. However, most are based on sectarian interests.
Since the emergence of the post-1943 state, national policy has been determined largely by a relatively restricted group of traditional regional and sectarian leaders. The 1943 national pact, an unwritten agreement that established the political foundations of modern Lebanon, allocated political power on an essentially confessional system based on the 1932 census. Until 1990, seats in parliament were divided on a 6-to-5 ratio of Christians to Muslims, when the ratio changed to half and half. Positions in the government bureaucracy are allocated on a similar basis. Indeed, gaining political office is virtually impossible without the firm backing of a particular religious or confessional group. The pact also allocated public offices along religious lines, with the top three positions in the ruling "troika" distributed as follows:
The presidency is reserved for a Maronite Christian;
The Prime Minister, a Sunni Muslim, and
The president of the National Assembly, a Shi'a Muslim.
Efforts to alter or abolish the confessional system of allocating power have been at the center of Lebanese politics for decades. Those religious groups most favored by the 1943 formula sought to preserve it, while those who saw themselves at a disadvantage sought either to revise it after updating key demographic data or to abolish it entirely. Nonetheless, many of the provisions of the national pact were codified in the 1989 Ta'if Agreement, perpetuating sectarianism as a key element of Lebanese political life.
Although moderated somewhat under Ta'if, constitutionally, the president has a strong and influential position. The president has the authority to promulgate laws passed by the National Assembly, to issue supplementary regulations to ensure the execution of laws, and to negotiate and ratify treaties.
The National Assembly is elected by adult suffrage (majority age is 21) based on a system of proportional representation for the various confessional groups. Most deputies do not represent political parties as they are known in the West, nor do they form Western-style groups in the assembly. Political blocs are usually based on confessional and local interests or on personal/family allegiance rather than on political affinities.
The parliament traditionally has played a significant role in financial affairs, since it has the responsibility for levying taxes and passing the budget. It also exercises political control over the cabinet through formal questioning of ministers on policy issues and by requesting a confidence debate.
Lebanon's judicial system is based on the Napoleonic Code. Juries are not used in trials. The Lebanese court system has three levels--courts of first instance, courts of appeal, and the court of cassation. There also is a system of religious courts having jurisdiction over personal status matters within their own communities, e.g., rules on such matters as marriage, divorce, and inheritance.