First Advisor

Birol Yesilada

Date of Publication

Summer 8-29-2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Public Affairs and Policy


Public Affairs and Policy




Democracy -- Lebanon – History -- 20th century, Democracy -- Lebanon -- History -- 21st century, Religion and politics -- Lebanon, Democracy -- Religious aspects – Islam, Lebanon -- Politics and government



Physical Description

1 online resource (viii, 257 pages)


This dissertation looks at democracy in Lebanon, a country that has a pluralistic society with many societal cleavages. The subject of this study is the consolidation of democracy in Lebanon, described by Arend Lijphart as a "consociational democracy". The research question and sub-question posed are:

1- How consolidated is democracy in Lebanon?

2- What are the challenges facing the consolidation of democracy in Lebanon?

The preamble of the 1926 Lebanese Constitution declares the country to be a parliamentary democratic republic. The political regime is a democracy, but one that is not built on the rule of the majority in numbers, since the numbers do not reflect the history of the country and its distinguishing characteristics. The division of power is built on religion, which defies the concept prevailing in western democracies of the separation between church and state. As the internal and the external conditions change, sometimes in a violent manner, the democracy in the country still survives. Today, after the war that ravaged Lebanon from 1975 to 1990, the Syrian occupation that lasted until 2005, the Israeli war in the summer of 2006, and the roadblocks in the face of the overdue presidential election in 2008, democracy is still struggling to stay alive in the country. There is no denying or ignoring the challenges and the attempts against democracy in Lebanon from 1975 to the present. Even with these challenges, there are some strong elements that let democracy survive all these predicaments. The reasons and events of the 1975-1995 war are still being sorted out and only history will clear that up. Can we say today that the Consociational democracy in Lebanon is consolidated? To answer this question Linz & Stepan's three elements of a consolidated democracy are used as the criteria: the constitution of the land, people's attitude towards democracy and their behavior. The analysis examines the Lebanese Constitution, surveys about people's attitude towards democracy, and reported events about their behavior, such as political demonstrations and political violence narrated in the media. The findings of this study show that although the Lebanese find democracy as being the only game in town, the consolidation of democracy in the country still faces some challenges, both internal and external. The study also shows that the criteria used for western democracies need to be adjusted to apply to a society such as the one in Lebanon: plural, religious and traditional.


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Persistent Identifier

232348_supp_9EECDE92-06BD-11E3-96EC-BE492E1BA5B1.csv (7 kB)
Demonstrations in Lebanon from 1970 through 1975

232348_supp_BF08F1CA-06BD-11E3-AFD6-074A2E1BA5B1.csv (8 kB)
Demonstations in Lebanon from 1976 through 2005

232348_supp_EC5DCFBA-06BD-11E3-BB2C-1670EF8616FA.csv (6 kB)
Demonstrations in Lebanon from 2006 through June 2009