Whose Government and What Law? A Political Sociological Investigation of Corruption in Lebanon and its Effect on Government, Legality, and the People
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Levels of corruption in Lebanon are at an all-time high. According to the Transparency International Index, Lebanon ranks 143rd out of 180 in level of corruption (with 180 being the worst). The citizens are also disenchanted with the high levels of political corruption. A survey by Transparency International found that 67% of individuals though that “most” or “all” individuals working in the public sector are corrupt. Clearly, corruption is a pervasive problem in Lebanon. This thesis is about political corruption and how it undermines the structure of government, the rule of law, and the socio-cultural landscape in the Republic of Lebanon. Detailed research on how the rule of law is undermined by corruption is lacking, particularly in the literature about Lebanon. Through nine in-depth interviews with members of the political elite, as well as high-ranking legal and government-related figures, I aim to understand how corruption undermines the societal institutions such as government and law in Lebanon and how, in turn, this impacts citizen interaction with these institutions. The results can be divided into two sections. The first result section addresses how the political elites use their position to engage in corruption and weaken the institution of government. This chapter also addresses how corruption influences citizens’ relationships with government. There are six key themes in this chapter: political self-interest, nepotism, clientelism, sectarianism, transparency, and distrust of government. The second result section analyses how the legal system is manipulated by the political elites to engage in corrupt behaviours, and how this manipulation renders legal institutions weak and inefficient. This chapter addresses how corruption undermines the rule of law, particularly in the eyes of the population. Finally, the thesis ends with a discussion of how all these themes intersect across politics and law.