The president of the Lebanese Republic
is the head of state
. The president is elected by the parliament
for a term of six years, which is not immediately renewable. By convention, the president is always a Maronite Christian
who is at least 21 years old.
From the expiration of the term of President Michel Suleiman
in May 2014 until October 31, 2016, the parliament was unable to obtain the majority required to elect a president, and the office was vacant for almost two and a half years, despite more than 30 votes being held. On October 31, 2016, the parliament finally elected Michel Aoun
as president.
The constitution requires the president hold the same qualifications as a member of Parliament
(also called the Chamber of Deputies), which are Lebanese citizenship
and attainment of the age of twenty-five .
Article 50 of the constitution of Lebanon
requires the president to take an oath upon assuming office, which is prescribed thus:
I swear by Almighty God to observe the Constitution and the laws of the Lebanese Nation and to maintain the independence of Lebanon and its territorial integrity.
Role and responsibilities
As described in the constitution, the president is commander-in-chief
of the Lebanese Armed Forces
and security forces; may appoint and dismiss the prime minister and cabinet; promulgates laws passed by Parliament; may also veto bills; and may dissolve
Parliament. In addition, he may also issue "emergency" legislation by decree.
In practice, however, Lebanon being a parliamentary republic
, the president is essentially the repository of reserve powers
and the office is largely symbolic.
Nevertheless, the president remains by and large the most important member of the executive,
and his veto on any legislation de facto
ensures that it will not be law. This is despite his powers having been somewhat moderated under Ta'if, notably with the increase in the powers of the Cabinet
; nevertheless, these reforms have not substantially altered the president's power, as he is still the sole person who can nominate and fire the prime minister and the Cabinet.
His major responsibilities (following Ta'if) include:
- Issue the decree appointing the prime minister (by convention Sunni Muslim) independently.
- Issue the decree forming the government (i.e. the cabinet), co-signed by the prime minister. The government must then receive a vote-of-confidence by the Chamber of Deputies (51%) in order to become active.
- Fire the prime minister (at will, no confirmation needed). This automatically fires the entire government, meaning every minister.
- Fire an individual minister. Requires confirmation of 2/3 of the cabinet and the signature of the PM. If more than 1/3 of the ministers constituting the initial government are fired/resign, then the entire government is considered resign.
- Sign into law and promulgate laws (countersigned by the PM).
- Veto bills passed by the parliament and the cabinet. The veto can be overridden by the Chamber of Deputies through a constitutional procedure. The cabinet cannot override the President.
- Sign decrees concerning a specific ministry(ies). Countersigned by the PM and ministers involved.
- Negotiate and ratify international treaties. All treaties must be approved by 2/3 of the cabinet before entering into force. Treaties involving spending that cannot be cancelled every new year must also be approved by Parliament (51%).
- Dissolve the parliament. Must be countersigned by the PM, and requires a 2/3 approval of the cabinet.
- Pass "emergency decrees" without the parliament's approval (article 58). Requires a half + 1 majority of the ministers. To pass emergency decrees without the parliament's approval, the parliament must spend 40 days without taking any action on a bill that was previously declared urgent by the president.
Previously to Ta'if, the president only needed the "favourable advice" of his ministers, rather than a clear consensus/majority. Nevertheless, while it may seem that the president is a "symbolic role" or significantly subjected to the will of his ministers, constitutionally, it is not so. The president retains the right to fire the entire government at will, and is still the person who nominates every minister - thereby effectively ensuring that they will all be favorable to him. In practice, the president's office has been weakened because of a) no clear majorities of parties and blocs in Parliament, b) the election of "consensus" (meaning generally weak, or defferent[clarification needed]
), presidents, and c) the formation of divided cabinets. The perceived weakness of the president is thus rooted in political, rather than constitutional, issues.
Symbolic roles and duties
Following the ratification of the Ta'if Accord, the Constitution laid out a preamble for the three "key" executive posts: the president, the prime minister, and the Council of Ministers. The preamble states the following:
The President of the Republic is the Chief of State, and the symbol of the unity of the Homeland. He ensures the respect of the Constitution, and the maintenance of Lebanon's independence, its unity, and its territorial integrity in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution. He chairs the Higher Defence Council. He is the Commander in Chief of the armed forces which are subject to the authority of the Council of Ministers.
The posts that come with the presidency are as follow:
- Chair of the Supreme Defense Council.
- Commander in chief of the armed forces.
- State President of Lebanon (the head of state).
Official state car
Thirty to sixty days before the expiration of a president's term, the speaker of the Chamber of Deputies calls for a special session to elect a new president, which selects a candidate for a six-year term on a secret ballot in which a two-thirds majority is required to elect. If no candidate receives a two-thirds majority, a second ballot is held in which only a majority is required to elect. An individual cannot be reelected president until six years have passed from the expiration of his or her first term.
Quorum for an election
The Constitution is silent on the issue of the quorum needed to call to order a parliamentary presidential electoral meeting. In the absence of a clear provision designating the quorum needed to elect the president, the constitution is open to differing interpretations. According to one view on the issue, a quorum constituting a majority of fifty-percent plus one (that required for any meeting of Parliament) is sufficient for a parliamentary presidential electoral meeting. Another view on the issue argues that the quorum is a two-thirds majority of the total members of Parliament as Article 49 of the constitution requires a two-thirds voting majority to elect the president in the first round and, if the quorum were half plus one, there would have been no need to require the two-thirds voting majority when the number of deputies present at the meeting does not exceed the quorum.
List of presidents
- ^ "Lebanese Politicians Reward Themselves - Al Akhbar English". 19 October 2017. Archived from the original on 2017-10-19.
- ^ a b c d Collelo, Thomas (1987). Lebanon: A Country Study. Government Printing Office. ISBN 0160017319.
- ^ a b Harb, Imad. "Lebanon's Confessionalism: Problems and Prospects". usip.org. United States Institute of Peace. Retrieved 15 July 2016.
- ^ "Lebanon - Constitution". unibe.ch. International Constitutional Law Project. Retrieved 15 July 2016.
- ^ a b c "Lebanon - The President". countrystudies.us.
- ^ "Taif Accord - Reut Institute". reut-institute.org.
- ^ Mordechai Nisan, Minorities in the Middle East: A History of Struggle and Self-Expression (2d ed.: McFarland, 2002), p. 219.
- ^ "بالصورة: هذه هي السيارة التي سينتقل بها الرئيس عون الى بعبدا".
- ^ "بالفيديو.. لحظة وصول الموكب الرئاسي الى ساحة النجمة".
- ^ "Supporters of Lebanon's Free Patriotic Movement cheer as the..."
- ^ "بالفيديو .. وصول موكب الحرس الجمهوري إلى ساحة النجمة". www.lebanondebate.com.
- ^ a b Saliba, Issam. "Lebanon: Presidential Election and the Conflicting Constitutional Interpretations". loc.gov. Library of Congress. Retrieved 15 July 2016.
Last edited on 25 April 2021, at 10:55
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