Clientelism in Lebanon

Dry Ice

Legendary Member
Clientelism refers to a form of social organization common in many developing regions characterized by "patron-client" relationships.

In such places, relatively powerful and rich "patrons" promise to provide relatively powerless and poor "clients" with jobs, protection, infrastructure, and other benefits in exchange for votes and other forms of loyalty including labor.

While this definition suggests a kind of "socioeconomic mutualism," these relationships are typically exploitative, often resulting in the perpetual indebtedness of the clients in what is described as a "debt-peonage" relationship.

In some instances, patrons employ coercion, intimidation, sabotage, and even violence to maintain control, and some fail to deliver on their promises.

Moreover, patrons are often unaccountable for their actions. Thus, clientelistic relationships are often corrupt and unfair, thereby obstructing the processes of implementing true sustainability.

WHAT IS CLIENTELISM
 

Abou Sandal

Legendary Member
Orange Room Supporter
I always said to those who have tendencies to politically prostitute themselves:Khayyeh if you insist on selling your conscience,at least you set the price,and let it be a good one.

7aram Yeshtrouk Be Franguein, W Ybi3ouk Be Mit Dollar, Bala Ma Yetla3lak Shi Commission.
 

Dry Ice

Legendary Member
Zuama Clientelism

In pluralistic societies, patronage is often a common feature of the political process; the promotion of the interests of a particular sect is frequently widespread. Although patronage is prevalent in developed and lesser developed countries alike, clientelism may be more entrenched in Lebanon than in most other nations. The pervasiveness of this system in Lebanon is easily traced to feudal times, wherein the overlord allowed peasants and their families the use of land in exchange for unquestioned loyalty. In more recent times, this social system has been translated into a political system; the overlord has become a political leader, or zaim, the peasants have become his constituents, and, instead of land, favors are exchanged for electoral loyalty. And although clientelism has its roots in the rural areas, it now pervades towns and large citites down to the neighborhood level.

A zaim is a political leader, and rather than being exclusively an officeholder, he may be a power broker with the ability to manipulate elections and the officials he helps elect. Accordingly, wastah-- the ability to attain access to a power broker--is widely sought, but only achieved at some price.

There are those who believe that at the local level zuama clientelism may have reduced sectarian strife. Often, political competition was intrasectarian, rather than with members of different groups. And because only some of Lebanon's electoral districts were confessionally homogeneous (although most had a certain sectarian preponderance), a candidate often could not be elected unless he were supported by other confessional groups within his district. Once elected, however, the opportunity to augment his power was great. To ensure that constituents continued their support, zuama have been known to employ qabadayat, or enforcers, whose job it was to see that their chiefs were warmly supported at the polls or to discourage opponents from voting. In fact, in the post-World War II years, many zuama developed their own militias to safeguard their interests, often against rivals within their own sect. The development of these militias led to tragedy during the 1975 Civil War when these private armies were turned loose on members of opposing sects.

Another component of the Lebanese patronage system is the important role of family. The position of zaim is frequently hereditary, and politics is often treated like a family business. For example, almost one-fourth of the members of the 1960 Chamber of Deputies were the descendants of men who had been appointed to the legislative assemblies under the French Mandate. Furthermore, it was not uncommon for more than one member of the same family to hold office in the same government; for example, four different members of the Sulh family have held the position of prime minister. In the 1970s and 1980s, Amin Jumayyil (the Phalange Party), Dani Shamun (the National Liberal Party), and Walid Jumblatt (the Progressive Socialist Party) inherited their fathers' political mantles. Occasionally, the family of a zaim would control an entire sect, as the Asad clan did over the Shias of southern Lebanon in the first half of the twentieth century.

Thus, in 1987 Lebanon's constitutionally based political system had to be viewed through the overlay of clientelism, a system that had persisted in one form or another for over a hundred years. Even so, this system, although unlikely to disappear in the near term, perhaps was being challenged by a post-1975 Civil War development: the rise of the militias. Although some militias were still controlled by descendants of traditional zuama, others, like Amal, Hizballah (Party of God), and the Lebanese Forces, were led by figures who had arrived relatively late on the political scene. These militias were not just military organizations; through military force they often gained control of revenues that formerly went to government coffers. In this way, by controlling armed might and the purse, the militias were appropriating the basic stock-in-trade of the traditional zaim system. The patron-client relationship, therefore, rather than dying out may merely have taken one more turn along an evolutionary track.

Lebanon - Zuama Clientelism
 

Dry Ice

Legendary Member
How do you suggest reviewing clientelism in Lebanon..

It could be done by sect, by [geographical] area or both.

Any other suggestions?
 

Abou Sandal

Legendary Member
Orange Room Supporter
How do you suggest reviewing clientelism in Lebanon..

It could be done by sect, by [geographical] area or both.

Any other suggestions?

One must first work to make the average citizen independant from any particular need or service.

A real state must be built up for that matter.

Meanwhile,

Just apply the law.It's already prohibited and sanctionned at many levels.
 

Dry Ice

Legendary Member
Clientelism is present both inside and outside the state institutions.

How does clientelism mostly reflect itself? Does the patron rely on a sectarian or geographically regional platform?
 

dodzi

Legendary Member
Clientelism is present both inside and outside the state institutions.

How does clientelism mostly reflect itself? Does the patron rely on a sectarian or geographically regional platform?

I don't think you can say that: Clientelism, by definition, is outside state institutions! There's no such thing as clientelism inside state institutions!

By definition, Clientelism corrupts state institutions, because it stops them from functioning normally, democratically...
 

Dry Ice

Legendary Member
I don't think you can say that: Clientelism, by definition, is outside state institutions! There's no such thing as clientelism inside state institutions!

By definition, Clientelism corrupts state institutions, because it stops them from functioning normally, democratically...

How about the clientelism of a Zaim in some area of Lebanon who relies on providing services to its target audience in return of allegiance? That Zaim doesn't necessarily need to be part of the institutional bodies while doing so.. ie: Amine Gemayel, still it could be a launching pad for him to access state institutions (or to come back in this case)...
 

dodzi

Legendary Member
How about the clientelism of a Zaim in some area of Lebanon who relies on providing services to its target audience in return of allegiance? That Zaim doesn't necessarily need to be part of the institutional bodies while doing so.. ie: Amine Gemayel, still it could be a launching pad for him to access state institutions (or to come back in this case)...

That's the point: the zaim uses means outside the institutions to ensure his control over the institutions.

For instance, Hariri, Hezbollah, PSP, etc., give money, social services, health-care, jobs to people, so that they vote for them!

So it's not within the institution that the clientelism exists, but outside of it...
 

Dry Ice

Legendary Member
That's the point: the zaim uses means outside the institutions to ensure his control over the institutions.

For instance, Hariri, Hezbollah, PSP, etc., give money, social services, health-care, jobs to people, so that they vote for them!

So it's not within the institution that the clientelism exists, but outside of it...

Let's look at it that way: A Zaim that gets within an institution (a ministry) could exert even more patronage with it on board.
 

dodzi

Legendary Member
Let's look at it that way: A Zaim that gets within an institution (a ministry) could exert even more patronage with it on board.

That's sure! But then there are something to consider: whatever he does to "help" "his" people, he does it through the state. Then it's called state welfare, not clientelism. And this could be reversed if the minister changes. Clientelism is a long-term issue, not something you do within state agencies, since it is not viable on the long-term. Of course, legally, there is nothing that permits a minister to discriminate on who he helps, so in case he does, then it's called something else:wink:

The idea of clientelism is to corrupt the citizens, one way or another (jobs, land offers, education, bribes, health-care, social services, protection, etc.), in order to take control of state institutions...

If a minister does a good job and gets reelected, it's called good governance, not clientelism (unless of course, see above)...
 

Dry Ice

Legendary Member
That's sure! But then there are something to consider: whatever he does to "help" "his" people, he does it through the state. Then it's called state welfare, not clientelism. And this could be reversed if the minister changes. Clientelism is a long-term issue, not something you do within state agencies, since it is not viable on the long-term. Of course, legally, there is nothing that permits a minister to discriminate on who he helps, so in case he does, then it's called something else:wink:

The idea of clientelism is to corrupt the citizens, one way or another (jobs, land offers, education, bribes, health-care, social services, protection, etc.), in order to take control of state institutions...

I still maintain that a Zaim/Patron reaching ministerial or parliamentary position could still be labeled as practicing clientelism if indeed that is still what he is doing..

As for not being able to sustain it on the long-term, let's take a look at another example in Michel el Murr, he (or his son) have been in the government since 1992 while holding a parliamentary position for far further than that.

Lebanon has the property of maintaining clientelism with certain patrons for an extended timeline.

If a minister does a good job and gets reelected, it's called good governance, not clientelism (unless of course, see above)...

Of course I wouldn't neither call the job of a good minister as clientelism (if he does not uses his position to unfairly provide services towards his voting circle) :smile:
 

dodzi

Legendary Member
I still maintain that a Zaim/Patron reaching ministerial or parliamentary position could still be labeled as practicing clientelism if indeed that is still what he is doing..

Could you just give me an example so I can contradict you?:biggrin:

As for not being able to sustain it on the long-term, let's take a look at another example in Michel el Murr, he (or his son) have been in the government since 1992 while holding a parliamentary position for far further than that.

This has nothing to do with clientelism... Murr getting elected as an MP is clientelism, but him getting the Minister job isn't: he just has a good relationship with the Army patrons...
 

Dry Ice

Legendary Member
Sure, Michel el Murr providing quick and hassle-free registration/licences to its clients as Minister of Interior is an example of him being a patron while a minister, while other non-clients have to wait days and weeks if any (plus the typical extra fees).
 

dodzi

Legendary Member
Sure, Michel el Murr providing quick and hassle-free registration/licences to its clients as Minister of Interior is an example of him being a patron while a minister, while other non-clients have to wait days and weeks if any (plus the typical extra fees).

That is called corruption:wink:
 

Tayyar Keserwen

Well-Known Member
Dodzi (or Dry Ice).

What do u consider Sleiman Frangieh providing free medical support for Zghorta, Batroun, Tripoli citizens?

Is it clientelism or corruption?

What do u consider Sleiman Frangieh providing ''cool'' and free license plates for Zghorta, Batroun, Tripoli citizens?

Is it clientelism or corruption?

Regards
 

Dry Ice

Legendary Member
That is called corruption:wink:

Dodzi (or Dry Ice).

What do u consider Sleiman Frangieh providing free medical support for Zghorta, Batroun, Tripoli citizens?

Is it clientelism or corruption?

What do u consider Sleiman Frangieh providing ''cool'' and free license plates for Zghorta, Batroun, Tripoli citizens?

Is it clientelism or corruption?

Regards

Clientelism in this case is corruption... the Zaim corrupts the mind (through such services) which leads to physical corruption through a shackled vote (an obligation towards that Zaim to elect him), etc..
 

Zghertewe

Active Member
Clientelism in this case is corruption... the Zaim corrupts the mind (through such services) which leads to physical corruption through a shackled vote (an obligation towards that Zaim to elect him), etc..

SF helped Muslims and Christians, LFers and FPMers, Zghertewiye and Becheraniye, etc...He did not help the people so they can elect him, he even helped people who are not in his district and can't vote for him.

You also need to take in consideration how the country was before GMA's return, kell we7ed fete7 3ala 7sebo. Everyone was corrupted and no one was helping from his own pocket.

However with all what is said, I believe that what he did, corrupted the mind of the people who was already corrupted like Dry Ice mentioned, and I am personally against all these types of clientelism.
 

dodzi

Legendary Member
Dodzi (or Dry Ice).

What do u consider Sleiman Frangieh providing free medical support for Zghorta, Batroun, Tripoli citizens?

Is it clientelism or corruption?

What do u consider Sleiman Frangieh providing ''cool'' and free license plates for Zghorta, Batroun, Tripoli citizens?

Is it clientelism or corruption?

Regards

In the first case, it is called clientelism.

In the second case it is called corruption...

SF helped Muslims and Christians, LFers and FPMers, Zghertewiye and Becheraniye, etc...He did not help the people so they can elect him, he even helped people who are not in his district and can't vote for him.

You also need to take in consideration how the country was before GMA's return, kell we7ed fete7 3ala 7sebo. Everyone was corrupted and no one was helping from his own pocket.

However with all what is said, I believe that what he did, corrupted the mind of the people who was already corrupted like Dry Ice mentioned, and I am personally against all these types of clientelism.

Regardless of who he helped ya Zghertewe... Even if it is totally legal (just like charity for RH's case), it is still clientelism...

European countries have laws against such things... You cannot mix charity, social security, health-care, education, with politics! It should be a state initiative (state being neutral, those things being run by neutral people). If a private enterprise decides to do charity or other, then there are laws forbidding it to be linked to a political party...
 
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