The FINANCIAL -- Lebanon failed its 44th attempt on September 7 to name a new head of state for the country, which has been without a president for more than two years. Amid the political paralysis, it is not surprising that just one in four Lebanese (25%) say they approve of the job performance of their country's leadership in 2016.
However, Lebanese approval of the leadership of their country has been low every time Gallup has asked Lebanese to rate their leadership in the past decade -- illustrating the deep roots of Lebanon's political impasse. The sectarian tensions, profound disagreements and political party boycotts that have prevented Lebanon's parliament from reaching the required quorum to elect a president are also to blame for the government's inability to pass a budget since 2005.
Lebanese Lack Confidence in Elections
The political stalemate is doing little to shore up Lebanese confidence in the honesty of their elections, which has ebbed and flowed over the past decade but has never been particularly strong. Slightly more than one in five Lebanese (22%) in 2016 are confident in the honesty of their elections, which is similar to levels in most years and seems to suggest that the current situation is what Lebanese have come to expect from their electoral process.
Majorities Perceive Widespread Government Corruption
Clues to the extent of Lebanese distrust of their leadership are evident not only in their low confidence in national institutions such as their national government (14%) and judicial system (27%), but also in the persistent, overwhelming majority of Lebanese (90%) who believe corruption is widespread throughout the country's government. This percentage has reached below 90% only a few times in the past decade and has ranked among the highest in the world in the past several years.
Lebanon is an important commercial and political hub in the Middle East. Its geographic location bordering Syria and Israel and its population mix of Shia and Sunni Muslims, Christians and Druze, however, has placed the nation squarely in the midst of regional conflicts. The country's civil war from 1975 to 1990 and a war with Israel in 2006 left Lebanon politically unstable, and it is now struggling to cope with the large influx of Syrian refugees.
Overwhelmed with its own internal political inefficiencies and entangled in regional and international conflicts, the Lebanese government's inability to elect a president suggests it has reached a point where it can no longer regenerate itself. Even if parliament ever succeeds in naming a new president, persistent low levels of trust in the country's leadership and institutions may have already bred indifference about who is at its helm.