Facing such a complex institutional situation, the question is whether, and how, existing resources within Lebanese society could bring an end to the political system based on confessional representation, and how these could contribute significantly to the secularisation of personal status and education.
The programme of the Lebanese National Movement (a coalition of political ‘progressive’ parties and movements founded in the first days of the civil war) is a useful historical reference. It gave a central place to the secular state, advocating an electoral system where the entire Lebanese territory would be considered a single electoral constituency, based on a list system and on proportional representation. It recognised two main identities of the Lebanese: as ‘individual citizens’ and as ‘members of a community’. It also tried to establish a voluntary non-religious civil code (it is worth noting that a similar decree in 1936 never saw the light of day). However, the project failed and the forces behind it were destroyed.
Since then, there has been no mass mobilisation in favour of secularising the electoral system. Admittedly, in 2005 there was a residual movement embodied in the ‘Beirut Spring’ (alternatively the ‘Cedar Revolution’ or ‘Independence Intifada’) but this crumbled quite rapidly due to its heterogeneous character. Indeed, the movement was composed of militants from the Left and members of a somewhat apolitical new generation – overly romanticised and anti-religious – who naively believed they could bring down the confessional system, but were incapable of working out how to achieve this.