Supporting democracy

Today was Election Day in Lebanon. It is very easy to be cynical about the democratic process, particularly in Lebanon. It is nine years since the last election and for many the country is an oligarchy and their vote can change nothing. 

I fully understand the frustration with the political system but am at a loss to see how not voting can contribute to the process of changing the political culture. As such we have been working in recent months with local partners to support a campaign to Get Out The Vote with the intention of encouraging young people to vote. Not who to vote for, obviously, as that is a personal choice, but the importance of exercising their democratic rights and helping to develop a system where politicians of all stripes are held accountable. In a consociational/confessional system like Lebanon's, which despite its travails is a critical example of coexistence in a difficult region, not just the right to vote but the willingness to exercise that right are critical. 

I am very proud of my many Lebanese friends and colleagues who have not just voted today, including travelling from overseas to do so, but also volunteered to monitor the elections, the better to ensure their integrity. Will the turnout be as high or the outcome as transformational as many hope? I doubt it, but I see no better to ensure the country's prosperity and stability, which will surely be secured one election at a time.

Alistair Harris, CEO ARK



Dom Spiers