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A Political History of the MARONITE COMMUNITY

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Going beyond the scripturalistic and even archaeological penchant so ubiquitous in Oriental Christian Studies, this book’s focus on the present will try to dispel the dominant historiographical account that portrays the Maronite community as the hegemon in pre-war Lebanon16 to underline, on the contrary, how the community participated, on an equal footing with the other major Lebanese tawa’if, in the game of “corporate federalism”17, in the consociational arrangement that characterized what Michel Chiha defined as the country of “associated confessional minorities”18. In fact, it will be argued that the bitter internal rivalries plaguing Maronite leadership, in both clerical and lay circles, throughout our study period19 – and beyond, as witnessed by the only recently overcome conflict between General cAun and Samir Geagea – prevented the community from taking full advantage of the constitutional prerogatives formally attributed to its main representative in the political game, the President of the Republic20. Forced to compromise, the Maronite community participated, as will be explained below, in the development of an unwritten constitutional tradition21 that, breaking away from the rigid legal positivism enshrined by Kelsen and his followers22, consecrated a power-sharing decision-making system which, under the catchy name of National Pact, severely curtailed presidential authority23 and established a double-veto arrangement24 at the helm of the State.

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