The Lebanese Elections and Their Consequences

by Rayan El-Amine | published June 14, 2018

Lebanon recently held its first national parliamentary elections in nine years. The expectation was that there would be a major rebellion against the traditional sectarian-based parties. But the results were much less dramatic, reflecting four current political trends in the country.

The United States’ Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and the Challenge to the International Consensus

by Mandy Turner , Mahmud Muna | published May 16, 2018

On December 6, 2017, US President Donald Trump announced that the US was recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and would be moving its embassy there from Tel Aviv in fulfillment of the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act. In one fell swoop, the US has seriously challenged 70 years of international consensus enshrined in international law as regards the status of the city, and put the potential for a two-state solution into a tail-spin. In keeping with the general chaos surrounding his presidency, Trump and his administration then announced a series of contradictory remarks regarding this historic decision. The original declaration insisted that the decision did not affect final status negotiations regarding Jerusalem, a position that was confirmed by then secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, a few days later. In so doing, Trump threw the diplomatic equivalent of a Molotov cocktail into the incendiary issue of Jerusalem’s status, but then denied he had done so, arguing that his decision was “nothing more, or less, than a recognition of reality. But then Trump contradicted himself in a January 3, 2018 tweet, where he stated: “we have taken Jerusalem, the toughest part of the negotiation, off the table.” Deciphering the different meanings in Trump’s statements and language is less important than the implications that this decision will have for future diplomatic policy and practice.

Sisi’s Plebiscitary Election

by Mona El-Ghobashy | published March 25, 2018

Since January, international media and rights groups have decried the escalating repression ahead of Egypt’s March 26-28 presidential election.

Lessons Learned (and Ignored)

Iran’s 2017 Election in Context

by Arang Keshavarzian , Naghmeh Sohrabi | published May 26, 2017

On May 23, 1997, Mohammad Khatami, who had spent most of the 1990s as head of the National Library, defeated Ali Akbar Nateq Nouri, the speaker of Parliament, to become president of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The election was a turning point in post-revolutionary history—the underdog beat the preferred candidate of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, successor to Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini as Leader of the Islamic Revolution (rahbar), with roughly 20 million votes or 70 percent of the total. Twenty years later, the incumbent president Hassan Rouhani drew parallels between that historic event and his own reelection bid, casting himself as the underdog this time and his main challenger, Ebrahim Raisi, as the man backed by the establishment.

Oman’s Consultative Council Elections

Shaking Up Tribal Hierarchies in Dhufar

by Alice Wilson
published in MER281

In October 2015, the Sultanate of Oman held elections for its Consultative Council. There was widespread coverage in the international media of elections convened during the same period in Argentina, Guatemala, Poland and several other countries, but the contests in Oman received little attention.

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Municipal Politics in Lebanon

by Ziad Abu-Rish
published in MER280

The municipal system has been a key pillar of debates on administrative decentralization, economic development and political participation in Lebanon. During the late 1990s and early 2000s, activists sought to stop the demolition of the 1924 Barakat Building on the basis that it was a heritage site. In response to public pressure, the Municipality of Beirut expropriated the building in 2013, and has since overseen a contentious process of transforming the space into a memory museum. International donors have increasingly directed aid flows for Syrian refugees in Lebanon through municipalities instead of the central government.

The Day Tehran Shook

by Farideh Farhi | published March 17, 2016

Speaking to a journalist days after the February 26 elections in Iran, leading reformist Mohammad Reza Aref stated, “When I saw the results for Tehran coming in, I was shocked.” Aref had expected the top of the list he headed to do well in the contest for Tehran’s 30 seats in the Tenth Majles, or Parliament, of the Islamic Republic. Most pre-election polls, in fact, had predicted that Aref’s slate would come out ahead in the capital. But its first-round sweep of all 30 seats, including many wins by unknown candidates, was a stunner for all involved.

Egypt's Elections

by Erika Post
published in MER147

If the riots of February 1986 ushered in a year of doubt about the future of Husni Mubarak’s regime, the events of early 1987 appear to indicate that he has consolidated his position both domestically and internationally. [1] Mubarak upstaged the opposition and enhanced his legitimacy by calling new parliamentary elections in which opposition forces were able to significantly increase their representation in the National Assembly. The government party, however, remains firmly in control of the parliament, virtually assuring the president's renomination in the fall for another six-year term, and approval of a new standby loan agreement with the International Monetary Fund.

Youth in Turkey’s 2015 Elections

by Aydin Özipek | published June 19, 2015 - 11:48am

On June 7, Turkish citizens went to the polls to elect the 550 members of the Grand National Assembly. Although the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) won 41 percent of the vote, it lost its majority in the parliament for the first time since 2002. It was a major blow for the party’s founder, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, whose plan to become a more powerful executive with fewer checks and balances seems to have been vetoed by the electorate.

Israel's Political Formations

by Joel Beinin
published in MER129

Alignment: The dominant party in the Labor Zionist movement was the right social-democratic Mapai. In 1965, a group loyal to Mapai’s historic leader, David Ben-Gurion, split and formed Rafi -- a formation characterized by an “activist” military policy and a technocratic/statist outlook. This group included Shimon Peres, Moshe Dayan and Yitzhak Navon. The same year the first Alignment, an electoral coalition and not a merger of forces, was formed between Mapai and Ahdut ha-Avoda, a kibbutz-based party with a tradition of military activism and close links to the military establishment (best represented by Yigal Allon, Deputy Prime Minister under Golda Meir and author of the “Allon Plan” for the occupied territories).