Future Movement’s rebranding to a multi-confessional party?

15Jul09

Future_Party_LebanonWorriedLebanese stumbled upon a very small news item yesterday that wasn’t given much attention by the Press. Samir Doumit, the former head of the Lebanese Order of Engineers, replaced Salim Diab as head of the temporary commission to restructure the Future Movement. I found this information quite interesting.

Second reform committee, two years after foundation

Hardly two years after the establishment of the Future Movement as a political party, a second committee will be studying new strategies for reform. And interestingly enough, the Prime Minister designate chose a Christian (among his faithfuls) to head this committee. What does this signal? I believe that the picture above says it all. This poster is a follow up to Future Movement’s electoral campaign “As long as the sky is blue”… Here what it says: “We are all under Lebanon’s skies” and it is signed Saad Hariri. On the bottom of the picture, you find the top part of 6 flags that are actually rather easy to recognise: Future Movement (property of the Hariri family), Amal (property of Nabih Berri), Hezbollah, Ishtiraki (property of the Joumblatt family), Kataeb (property of the Gemayel family ) or Lebanese Forces (property of Samir Geagea), and the FPM (property of Michel Aoun).

The message is clear: Hariri and his Future Movement are above the political bikering and divisions. They represent a united trans-communal Lebanon. All this is very nice, but it faces one big problem: reality. Saad Hariri is a Sunni Za’im, and Future Movement is an overwhelmingly sunni party, a mostly sunni KSA backed clientelist network, supported by two funds (educational and socio-medical) and linked to a media group that shares the same name.

Politically, it gathered about 70% of Sunni votes nationwide during the last elections, reinforcing the results it had 4 years back. But interestingly enough, its political message & slogans are rather similar to those of the Kataeb party in the 1960s, and so are its ambitions. Will the Future Movement succeed where the Kataeb failed, and grow beyond the confines of its communal group? Only time will tell. The movement has already adopted all the Kataeb slogans and big chunk of its ideology. This will certainly bring many Christians closer to it. But how close will they get, and how long will they stay. Will it be able to keep the large Sunni support if it mutates to a truly multi-confessional party?

 

What the Press had to say about this new nomination

I searched a great number of Lebanese newspapers to find some more information about this replacement, but I found none. They all said pretty much the same, basing their report on a statement to the Press issued by Future Movement. Here’s how the Daily Star reproduced the press release:

The Media Department of the Future Movement issued a statement Sunday saying the movement’s leader Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri assigned a temporary commission to restructure the Future Movement and take over the responsibilities of the outgoing general coordinator of the party, former MP Salim Diab. The statement said the Future Movement leadership took the decision “unanimously” in a meeting attended by Diab. Hariri praised the efforts of the resigning coordinator.

As you can see, there’s very little information. No background information on Samir Doumit, no short interview asking him about his program, no assessments of the challenges he is likely to face, or the goals that Future Movement wants to achieve. There is not even a line on what Salim Diab had achieved when he held the helm.



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