Foreign countries should not buy Lebanese elections

Democracy there is frail, and corrupted elections could put Lebanon on the brink of civil war.

According to The New York Times, donors from across the globe are pumping hundreds of millions of dollars into Lebanon in order to impact the upcoming elections. The Saudi Arabian government is involved, with an aim to buy votes in support of the election of Saad Hariri and his allies. For the average voter that could mean $800 or so in exchange for a vote âÄî not to mention the dignity, free speech and political rights that could also be taken. Other questionable practices include financing the trips of Lebanese immigrants to their homeland to vote for the current majority coalition. It pains us to see that Saudi Arabia is interfering in the election process of an emerging democratic country. Apart from the moral and ethical problems that buying off voters raises, such an act can increase instability in this frail country. It could lead the opposing party to doubt the legitimacy of the elections and lead to calls for another round of elections. The country has already been through its share of political turmoilâÄîculminating last year in gunfights in the streets of Beirut. Political leaders then headed to Doha and negotiated a power-sharing agreement in order to calm sectarian tensions. Corrupted elections could very well lead the country to the brink of civil war. Ironically, though, these backhanded techniques are also a testament to how far democracy has come in Lebanon. In order to influence the election result, Saudi Arabia has had to directly address the citizens of Lebanon. In earlier decades, just a few big backroom deals behind closed doors might have done the job. Electoral power now more clearly rests with the people of Lebanon. Nevertheless, we urge foreign powers to respect the autonomy of Lebanon and the true electoral desires of Lebanese voters. This editorial, accessed via UWire, was originally published in the Harvard Crimson at Harvard University. Please send comments to [email protected]