Chameleon Murr and the implications on Metn

By Ana

It was only a few weeks back that Michel Murr made a long, comprehensive, and clear press statement where he firmly presented himself as the Christian who would be in charge of finding a compromise candidate for the Metn in the upcoming by-elections to take place on August 5. In this press conference, he had also specifically stated that he would try to make Amin Gemayel, father of the late Pierre Gemayel, the compromise candidate for both political blocs.

On Friday, July 20, Gemayel presented his candidacy to the by-elections in an emotional speech.

It is therefore quite unfortunate that yesterday, General Michel Aoun, Michel Murr, and the Armenian nationalist Tashnag Party, presented themselves as a tripartide bloc and gave their full support to FPM candidate Camile Khoury, who will be running against Gemayel. After Aoun spoke, Murr stated that the alliance “was not born yesterday,” implying that the bloc had previously met and had chosen to back an FPM candidate. So what was his grand insistence on presenting himself as a potential moderator between the two blocs? Although expected, one is always surprised to see how words never manifest themselves into action.

On another note, the Metn by-elections promise to be a very interesting experience for the FPM and their leader. Aoun was compelled to challenge Gemayel but through a proxy (Khoury) rather than presenting himself. The move is interesting on two levels. Firstly, by not running, Aoun will not have a second voting record before the presidential elections to take place in November. This means, that should Gemayel beat Khoury, Aoun will not interpret is as a personal loss on his personal ambition to take the much desired political seat. Secondly, should Gemayel beat Khoury, it will be interesting to assess the voting gap between the two. What Aoun does not wish to get, is that to manifest what he has been saying for the past few months (i.e. that the FPM has gained a broader support base), his candidate should, by default and unquestionably, get a majority of the votes in the Metn. However, not just a simply majority, but an outstanding majority. To teach the general how to count ahead of the game: a broader support base means MORE than 70 percent (which was his voting record back in May 2005).

Unfortunately, when, and I say when because I find it most probable that Gemayel will succeed his son, Khoury does lose significantly to the former president, Aoun will not interpret this as a red light that something is very wrong (i.e. his talk and the ground figures don’t add up). Let’s see how he is going to present to his constituents that the elections were undemocratic or were manipulated when he is asked by journalists to come to terms with his Metn defeat.

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3 Comments

Filed under Amin Gemayel, Aoun, Camille Khoury, Lebanese Christians, Lebanon, Michel Murr, Pierre Gemayel, Tashnag

3 responses to “Chameleon Murr and the implications on Metn

  1. M.

    Ana,
    I don’t understand how you want Aoun to present himself. He’s already an MP so he’s presenting Camille Khoury, a member of his Free Patriotic Movement. I don’t think he can do more.
    And then, unlike you, I think it’s gonna be very hard for Gemayel to win this election. Tashnag and Murr have already declared they will support Aoun’s candidate and both of them make up around 30,000 votes. Of course, this is only a by-election and Gemayel’s only chance is that these two won’t mobilize their constituency as much as they’re used to. And I personally believe that this is what they’re going to do since they can’t afford to go all the way against their traditional ally in the metn: Amin Gemayel.

  2. ana

    Dear M:

    I actually misexplained myself with the reference to “presenting himself.” I meant that in a rhetorical sense: If Khoury loses, Aoun will not understand the broader implications of that loss (i.e. If he loses, he’ll tie the loss to Khoury and not to a broader problem with the FPM and its unnatural positioning that goes against the Christian interests Aoun so claims to be protecting).

    Your comment about not being able to mobilize both constituencies is very interesting. I do wonder how that is going to play out. However, what I feel is going to happen is we’re going to see one of two scenarios:

    1. Either the people are going to be so sick of the situation that they’re not going to even bother to head for the voting posts, or

    2. We are going to see a highly polarized Metn voting population. That is the scenario that, in my opinion, is healthier and signals that the Lebanese populace are still willing to give elections a try, and it also means that they haven’t lost their patience with the political situation, at least not yet.

  3. M.

    I guess the 1st scenario is more likely. I believe we’re gonna have a lower turn-out, which is normal since this is only a by-election. I don’t know who’s gonna benefit from a low turn out. I’d be tempted to say Amin Gemayel: (1) the main feature of the 2005 elections is that Aoun was able to attract the neutral voters. These days, many people are just sick and tired of the whole situation and I wouldn’t be surprised if many preferred to spend Sunday on the beach. (2) Although murr and tashnag will most probably back aoun’s candidate, I believe their constituency will probably not feel concerned by these elections and, add to that, I think both will not do much to mobilize them, since as I said in my previous message, they both have good relations with the Gemayels and wouldn’t like to change that for the moment, especially Michel el Murr.
    But, will all this be enough to win the elections? I certainly hope so as there’s nothing I would like more than to put an end to Aoun’s arrogance! but unfortunately I think his candidate is the favorite. The guy is still pretty popular despite everything he has done.

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