Religions (Feb 2018)

Who Benefits from Consociationalism? Religious Disparities in Lebanon’s Political System

  • Kenneth Vaughan

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 9, no. 2
p. 51


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This study examines the extent to which confessional identities in Lebanon are responsible for shaping individual views toward their government. Specifically, I investigate disparities between religious groups in their perceptions of democracy and democratic principles as applied in Lebanon. Using nationally representative data from the Arab Barometer’s survey of Lebanon, I find that when compared to Maronite Catholics, Druze, and Sunni Muslims, Shia Muslims consistently give higher evaluations of the democratic condition of Lebanon. When compared to members of other religious groups, Shia Muslims are also more trusting of government institutions and perceive Lebanon to be freer. I find little evidence that the application of consociational theory equally and proportionally represents the political needs of the religious groups intended to be served. Rather, my findings reveal religious disparities in evaluations of democracy and political institutions in Lebanon, supporting critics of consociationalism who argue that consociationalism essentializes group-identity to political disputes.