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Democracy in Lebanon and the exclusion of Hezbollah

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Israel’s Tzipi Livni, in an Op-Ed in The New York Times, argues that Hezbollah should be barred from Lebanon’s upcoming elections because the group is interested in using the democratic process to advance its radical goals, not change:

I believe that democracy is about values before it is about voting. These values must be nurtured within society and integrated into the electoral process itself. We cannot offer international legitimacy for radical groups and then simply hope that elections and governance will take care of the rest. In fact, the capacity to influence radical groups can diminish significantly once they are viewed as indispensable coalition partners and are able to intimidate the electorate with the authority of the state behind them.

For this reason, the international community must adopt at the global level what true democracies apply at the national one — a universal code for participation in democratic elections. This would include requiring every party running for office to renounce violence, pursue its aims by peaceful means and commit to binding laws and international agreements. This code should be adopted by international institutions, like the United Nations, as well as regional bodies. It would guide elections monitors and individual nations in deciding whether to accord parties the stamp of democratic legitimacy, and signal to voters that electing an undemocratic party would have negative international consequences for their country.

Full column here.

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