MESA Banner
The Nexus between Power-Sharing and Time: Politics and Timekeeping in Lebanon
How do power-sharing systems known for their immobilism and proneness to stalemate interact with time? This paper builds on Lebanon’s political system, commonly framed as a sectarian system of power-sharing to investigate the relationship between power sharing systems and temporalities. Framed for a long time as a relatively liberal system amid surrounding authoritarian systems, Lebanon’s sectarian model of politics has been astonishingly “time-resilient” at the expense of people’s wellbeing and future-oriented policy planning. In the name of preserving religious coexistence through sectarian-based political offices, it has turned a blind eye to infrastructural, environmental, and economic reforms. Indeed, since 1943, the political system has been caught into a cycle of “recurrent dilemmas.” Empirical evidence shows that the temporal routines of Lebanon’s policy-making cycles may be one of the heaviest in terms of incurring losses on people’s time, resources, and futures. The paper investigates the relationship between Lebanon’s sectarian power-sharing system and time through a dual lens: the macro-temporal and micro-temporal. First, it probes into the century-old “lifecycle” of Lebanon’s political system. This part grapples with key questions: how has such a political system matured over time? What historical and temporal routines as well as (geo)political “time horizons” have shaped its longevity? How has it performed over time? To assess the system’s lifecycle performance, the chapter critically delves into the time horizons and the temporal routines of key political dynamics. Examples are political deadlocks, electoral processes, wars, post-conflict settlements and policy-making cycles over issues such as electricity, trash, the environment, and the internet. The second part of the paper delves into micro-temporalities, investigating how the “lifecycle” of Lebanon’s political system, including deadlocks and policy inaction, has interacted with people’s daily schedules, productive time at work and ability to plan their future, including issues such as retirement.
Political Science
Geographic Area
Sub Area