The Lebanese Forces’ main slogan for its electoral campaign – “We want and we can” – has emphasized the political party’s willingness and determination to bring about change in the upcoming polls, as stated by the LF leader, Samir Geagea, in an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat.
“The Lebanese people today are facing a very big problem; we know how to solve the crisis, and we are able to do it,” Geagea said, stressing that for the first time in the country’s history, voters will not take into account “partisan or family considerations in the narrow sense of the term,” but would focus instead on public affairs and living concerns.
According to the LF chief, the “opponent” in the elections scheduled for May 15, is the “hard core” of the ruling system, which is represented by Hezbollah and the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), led by MP Gebran Bassil, President Michel Aoun’s son-in-law.
He noted in this regard that this political bloc could see weak results in the elections, which would make it lose impetus and strength.
“This is an undisputed fact… despite the varying estimates of the extent of the loss. Consequently, the previous system will collapse, and this election will bring about a new majority,” Geagea told Asharq Al-Awsat.
Underlining his belief that the parliamentary majority would not be held by a single political party, he stated that the elected group of forces, parties and personalities would be able to forge a new path
Asked about the experience of the March 14 forces, which held the parliamentary majority in 2005 and 2008, but failed to achieve their desired goals, Geagea said: “Truthfully, we were about to achieve something in 2005, but we failed ourselves.”
“We had a government recognized by the whole world, and when (Hezbollah) carried out its operation on July 11, 2006 (the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers and the outbreak of the Second Lebanon War), the government negotiated for a ceasefire even though everyone was aware that it was not responsible or aware of the party’s plans,” he continued.
“The government was able to obtain a ceasefire on the best possible terms for Lebanon, and all Western countries responded to its request, including Arab and Gulf states,” Geagea stressed, noting that despite the wave of assassinations that rocked the country in 2005 and 2006, economic growth registered a rate of 4 to 7 percent.
“The repeated attacks, assassinations, and the barbarism of the other party made some of the parliamentary majority hesitate and abandon its march… So we were in the majority, but we exercised governance as a minority,” he remarked.
Geagea emphasized that the experiences of the so-called governments of national unity should not be repeated.
“We want a defined government that has a very clear and coherent policy. A government of real experts, not advisors,” he stated.
The LF leader noted that Hezbollah and Amal Movement might be able to maintain “their full parliamentary representation.”
“But even if this happens, their public representation will be poor compared to the previous elections,” he said.
With simple calculations, Geagea talked about other confessions, saying: “In the Druze scene, the situation will remain the same… because the Progressive Socialist Party, headed by Walid Jumblatt, is still by far the strongest within the sect.”
As for the Christian arena, he affirmed that a major shift would take place.
“Change will vary between 40 and 60 percent, as no one can know how people will act out of their sufferings over the past two years,” he underlined.
In the Sunni street, and despite the withdrawal of former Prime Minister Saad Hariri from political life, Geagea stressed that many figures “still carry the ideology of the Future Movement and share our visions and aspirations.”
Asked about the lack of cooperation with other components, such as the Kataeb Party and the forces that represent the civil movement, he replied: “There are continuous attempts to gather as many of these figures, if not all of them. What unites us at least is a view of the current situation and how to get out of it.”
“I tell you frankly, all those do not represent the hard core of the regime (Hezbollah and the Free Patriotic Movement). Thus, the convergence of necessities and visions objectively will allow us to form a large bloc in parliament, regardless of the organizational status of this bloc,” he stated.
Geagea said he was confident that the elections would take place on time, “despite the intentions of some, especially the hard core.”
He noted in this regard that the FPM would do anything to delay the elections, “but I do not see that they are able to find a way to postpone or cancel them.”
On whether a parliamentary majority of around 65 deputies out of 128 would be able to elect a new president at the end of October, Geagea said: “No, but it is certain that others will not be able to bring their president, and this is important. You start by preventing anything harmful and keep trying to do useful things.”
The path out of the crisis following the elections, if things went as expected, is also clear to Geagea.
“Our crises are intertwined. Economics and politics are interconnected…The main problem we have is political, which has resulted in economic crises. The ruling group combines corruption, inefficiency, and chaos…” he remarked.
All of this is due to the actual decision-making authority, which is the Lebanese government, and behind it the successive parliamentary majority during the past five and six years, according to Geagea.
“Therefore, anything is possible if change happens at the political level,” he stated.
The LF leader stressed that his party was the right alternative for the FPM on the Christian arena.
He explained: “The work of the Lebanese Forces is completely opposite to all the practices that we have seen from the FPM while in power.”
On how to resolve Lebanon’s crisis with the Gulf, Geagea stressed that Arab and Gulf states would reconsider their position when the authority is no longer in the hands of the corrupt.
“Certainly, they are not interested in the current Lebanon. They will not be interested Qassem Soleimani’s Lebanon (the IRGC general who was killed in a US raid), but in the country of Charles Malek, Camille Chamoun, Rafik Hariri and Bashir Gemayel,” he concluded.