Radical Movement-Parties, Political Change and the Epistemology of Elections: Evidence from Lebanon

Ibrahim Halawi, Janine Clark, Bassel Salloukh

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A growing literature seeks to bring agency into the study of movement-parties (M-Ps). Yet studies pay little attention to radical M-Ps which confront acute dilemmas when deciding to contest parliamentary elections in systems they deem illegitimate. This article problematizes radical M-Ps’ entry in elections and the meaning they attribute to the role and function of elections – their epistemology of elections. We examine three M-Ps – Beirut Madinati, LiHaqqi, and Muwatinun wa Muwatinat fi Dawla. We demonstrate that radical M-Ps with a coherent strategy for political change, one that includes an epistemology of elections, are more likely to mitigate and survive electoral dilemmas when entering elections. Radical M-Ps lacking such a strategy risk fragmentation and potential dissolution. Methodologically, we chose Lebanon because 1) during the period under study, it is a democracy and, consequently, a relevant case study for theories of party formation; and 2) it offers a controlled comparison of M-Ps in elections. Moreover, all three M-Ps emerged during a similar time-period, with similar social bases, and, at least originally, radical positions. Research is based on participation in, and observation of, protests and elections between 2011 and 2022, as well as primary and secondary source.
Original languageEnglish
Early online date23 Feb 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 23 Feb 2024

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