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Sleiman Frangieh, the leader of the Marada Party, created a stir by suggesting that the presidential race be limited to him and Samir Geagea, the leader of the Lebanese Forces (LF), in open electoral sessions. This move is aimed at reducing the deadlock surrounding this dossier and facilitating the election of the next president of the Republic.

Sleiman Frangieh is fully aware that this scenario can strategically work in his favor. In fact, he could sway some undecided voters who are unsympathetic towards Geagea while simultaneously breaking up the opposition, which includes many presidential contenders and factions from the revolution blocs who are staunchly opposed to Samir Geagea’s presidential bid. At this point, once PSP leader Walid Joumblatt realizes that Geagea’s election is unlikely, he will be inclined to support Frangieh during the first presidential electoral session, knowing that Joumblatt doesn’t perceive the Marada leader as being a provocative figure.

In this context, it should be mentioned that Frangieh doesn’t lose sight of the age-old animosity between the Marada Party and the Lebanese Forces. He believes that the votes he will fail to secure from the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) will not necessarily be transferred to the LF. At this point, it should be emphasized that Frangieh benefits from the support of four to five MPs from Bassil’s Strong Republic Bloc due to sour relationships and internal disagreements between these members and the FPM leader. Given this specific context, Frangieh’s move could potentially pave the way for his election, bearing in mind that this envisioned outcome may not fully materialize in the absence of a whole regional settlement.

Looking back, clearly, the decision to elect one of the four Christian leaders was a significant misstep, one that directly impacted the Christian community as a whole. The initial Maronite leaders’ summit (requested by Patriarch Beshara Rai) in Bkerke convened with the explicit purpose of resolving the longstanding presidential vacancy. Back then, the agreement was to agree on any of the four main Christian figures, with the approval of the other three. However, the settlement only carried through when the LF and the FPM agreed to elect Michel Aoun.

Bkerke’s objective was to ride the wave instigated by the FPM in Lebanese politics, under the banner of improved representation. This involved rejecting the appointment to political positions of anyone who did not truly reflect the prevailing realities. During the era of Syrian influence, it became a normal practice for many Christians in high political positions — be they presidents or ministers — lack major popular support.

But what were the exact criteria used to pick the four leaders? The LF and the FPM emerged as the dominant Christian factions post-war, their prominence stemming from the persecution they endured, whether through imprisonment or exile. Furthermore, they garnered widespread Christian sympathy for their wartime struggles, bolstered by the revered status of the military.

As for the Kataeb Party, it prides itself on a legendary political history, being one of the oldest parties in the country and having produced two former presidents, including its enduring candidate and the party’s founder, Pierre Gemayel. Furthermore, it has witnessed numerous martyrs from both its ranks and affiliated members. This historical legacy ensures that the Kataeb Party remains a permanent fixture in Lebanon’s historical junctures.

Sleiman Frangieh, on the other hand, has a standing of his own. During the Syrian occupation of Lebanon, there was a concerted effort to forcefully impose Sleiman Frangieh as a leader. Initially serving as minister of health, he rose to prominence through this specific title. Later, he took over the role of minister of interior, mirroring the leadership style of Metn’s Michel Murr, whose authority largely hinged on Syrian support.

Following the Syrian withdrawal, Frangieh, who was equally powerful as Hezbollah, forcefully asserted himself in the opposition camp against the March 14 Alliance, allying with Michel Aoun.

In the latest parliamentary elections, candidates affiliated with Sleiman Frangieh collectively secured a vote count that rivaled that of the entire revolution’s candidates in the third northern circumscription alone. Only one MP prevailed in Zgharta: Frangieh’s son. In short, Frangieh’s electoral influence stands on par with any local candidate in any other circumscription.

So, what sets Sleiman Frangieh apart from figures like Neemat Frem in Kesrewan, Michel Murr in Metn, or even Michel Daher in Zahleh? Their electoral influence is the same. Thus, what is stopping these figures from becoming Maronite leaders? Or could the main issue be that Sleiman Frangieh happens to be one of them?

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