11/15/2007 - As the term of Lebanese President Emile Lahoud draws to a close, the country's precarious political balance is once again in jeopardy. Unable to agree on a successor, Lebanon's parliament has delayed the selection of a new president three times this year. Now scheduled to take place next week, the selection process ultimately should produce a Maronite Christian president, in accordance with the country's political system known as "confessionalism." This arrangement allocates the nation's three top political jobs among its three major religious groups resulting in a Christian president, a Sunni Muslim prime minister, and a Shia Muslim speaker of the parliament.
This power sharing arrangement aims to ameliorate the deep sectarian divides in Lebanese society. And, as a recent Pew Global Attitudes survey highlights, large and important differences of opinion do exist among the Christian, Sunni, and Shia communities. However, on a number of major issues, these divisions do not run along a Muslim-Christian fault line. Instead, the sharpest divides are between Shia on the one hand and Christians and Sunnis on the other.
Read the full article Lebanon's Precarious Politics on the Pew Research Center Web site.