With the period for individual candidates registration closing fast (it ends on March 7, 60 days before elections), it is a general stamped!
Every major party has announced or will soon announce their list of candidates, as an opening bid in a very complicated and multi layered poker game.
However, the field of candidates will rapidly be filled with too many candidates, some known, and others not, some affiliated to the parties, but many not… There are many causes for this exuberance, but mainly:
First, fielding a large number of candidates will raise the price of any future negotiation or alliance. “I am sorry but I already announce Mr. X as a candidate in this district, I cannot support your candidate…” is a very convenient excuse. It forces the other party to up their price, offering another seat or two for that coveted spot!
Second, the parties need to field a large number of candidates, in case alliances shift and they will have to switch a few seats here and there. Especially, when considering the sectarian electoral mosaic.
Third, you never know what tomorrow brings, and that goes doubly in Lebanon. Better to have a few extra candidates, just in case! Maybe someone feels pressured, or maybe a party member switches allegiance.
Fourth, there is an old Lebanese scheme: A number of hopeless candidates would register nevertheless, knowing they hold a famous family name, or a few hundred votes, or a specific Ace up their sleeve, and they will wait. They will wait for the highest bidder to buy them off. Usually, they are paid handsomely! Oh, if only we apply that beautiful creative force into something fruitful and long-term!
March is going to be a month filled with drama, backstabbing, and Lebanese political horse-trading at its finest! Indeed, the real negotiations will only start after the candidate window registration closes. It is hard to judge the battle before each general has at least start lining up his soldiers.
When March 27 comes, and lists are set. Then the real campaign will start, as each party has formed their alliance and there is no more room for negotiations.
Then the roulette ball will start spinning… “rien ne va plus!”