Voting age issue unites the Maronites in Lebanon


vote-picThe move to lower the voting age from 21 to 18 has united the Maronite Christians in Lebanon. For the first time rival Maronite leaders Michel Aoun , Amin Gemayel and Samir Geagea are united in their opposition to lowering the voting age .

It is all about numbers… Analysts estimate that lowering the voting age would add about 50,000 Christians to the electorate, mainly Maronites, and about 175,000 Muslims, roughly equally split between Shiites and Sunnis.

“Christians fear the numbers,” Paul Salem, who heads the Beirut-based Carnegie Middle East Centre, told AFP.

“Mainly it is a fear that lowering the voting age might be the first step in rethinking the entire political structure.”

The issue will be put to the test at a parliament session on Monday, almost one year after MPs approved draft legislation to cut the age from 21 to 18.

“With the realization that their community in Lebanon is shrinking, many Christians are considering whether, in a few generations, Muslims will start questioning why they should continue to give Christians half when they are a minority ( based on Taef accord).”

The Christians want to link lowering the voting age to allowing Lebanese expatriates to vote. Lebanon’s diaspora is estimated to number at least double its population and at least a third are Christians.



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