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.