Congratulations to Lebanese for carrying out the Parliamentary Elections relatively peacefully and efficiently. Also, kudos to the victors for their success and the losers for graciously accepting the results. The blogosphere as well as the media in Lebanon and abroad is saturated with analysis on the elections. For now, I only have a few remarks on the speech Hassan Nasrallah delivered earlier in the evening.
The most salient theme Nasrallah raised in his remarks was that of the popular vote. It is not yet known what exactly the results of the total popular vote are, but Nasrallah argues that it will most likely be in favor of the Opposition. Demography suggests he’s almost certainly right. Essentially, the Secretary General makes a distinction between the “parliamentary majority” and the “popular majority”. He interprets the fact that the Opposition candidates may have received a “popular majority” or an overall plurality of votes as a popular referendum in favor of the resistance. Nasrallah, despite paying lip service to the dialogue table, called the resistance and its weapons non-negotiable, a position stated by Mohammed Raad earlier in the day.
Thus, in case March 14 tries to take its victory as a wide popular mandate for questioning Hezbollah’s weapons, the Party is already digging in and drawing its red lines (though those red lines were made plenty clear in May 2008). Khalid Sagieh had an article in al-Akhbar last month on Nasrallah’s “Glorious Day” speech in which he writes the following, “والحوار هنا ليس إلا مصطلحاً كوديّاً يعني عكسه تماماً، أي إنّ مسألة
السلاح غير مطروحة للحوار حاليّاً، وإنّه لا يمكن طرحها أصلاً إلا في ظروف
داخلية وإقليمية ودولية مختلفة تماماً. [Dialogue here is nothing but a code word meaning the complete opposite. The issue of the weapons is not raised for dialogue now, and it is not possible to raise at all except in completely different internal, regional, and international circumstances.]“ In my view, these circumstances will come about when Hezbollah and its allies control the government, an possibility distanced by the election.
Ultimately, results of yesterday’s election represent a repudiation of the prospect of integrating the state and society into the resistance, the defense strategy presented by Hezbollah and Aoun. The election itself was to some degree a referendum on this very issue as well as the status quo of Hezbollah’s weapons. Now that Hezbollah did not receive the outcome it hoped for, Nasrallah is trying to shift the metrics of the referendum ex post.