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Date of the election session

According to Article 73 of the Lebanese Constitution, “One month at least or two months at most before the expiry of the term of office of the President of the Republic, Parliament shall convene upon the call of the Speaker to elect the new President of the Republic. However, should it not be convened for this purpose, Parliament shall meet automatically on the tenth day preceding the expiry of the President’s term of office.”

This Article was first amended on May 22, 1948, during the election of President Bechara El-Khoury for the second time, prescribing the holding of the election one month after the amendment of the Constitution. In 1976, it was amended anew and the new text stipulated that the presidential election should take place at least one month and at most six months prior to the expiry of the term of office of the existing President of the Republic. This has allowed for the election of President Elias Sarkis, four months before the expiry of his predecessor’s term.

The Presidents of the Republic of Lebanon and the date of their election

Table 1

President of the Republic

Date of election

Size of Parliament

Attending MPs

Voting rounds and no. of votes

Bechara El-Khoury

September 21,1943, two days after the resignation of President Petro Trad

55

47

  • First round of voting: 44 votes / 3 blank ballots

May 27, 1948, eighteen months before the expiry of his term of office

45

55

  • First round of voting: 46 votes

Camille Chamoun

September 23, 1952 following the resignation of President Bechara El-Khoury on September 18. He took the oath during the same session.

77

76

  • First round of voting: 74 votes for Camille Chamoun / a vote for Abdullah El-Haj / a blank ballot

Fouad Chehab

July 31, 1958, eight days after the beginning of the constitutional period.

66

56

  • First round of voting: 43 votes for Fouad Chehab/ 10 votes for Raymond Eddeh / 2 blank ballots / an invalid ballot
  • Second round of voting: 48 votes for Fouad Chehab / 7 votes for Raymond Eddeh / a blank ballot.

Charles Helo

August 18, 1964, twenty seven days after the beginning of the constitutional period.

99

99

  • First round of voting: 92 votesfor Charles Helo / 5 votes for Pierre Gemayel / 2 blank ballots

Suleiman Frangieh

August 17, 1970, twenty six days after the beginning of the constitutional period.

99

99

  • First round of voting: 45 votes for Elias Sarkis/ 38 votes for Suleiman Frangieh/ 10 votes for Pierre Gemayel / 5 votes for Jamil Lahoud/ 1 vote for Adnan Hakim
  • Second round of voting: cancelled after 100 votes were cast
  • Third round of voting: 50 votes for Suleiman Frangieh/49 votes for Elias Sarkis

Elias Sarkis

May 8, 1976 (the Constitution was amended and the date of election advanced)

99

69

  • First round of voting: 63 votes for Elias Sarkis/ 5 blank ballots
  • Second round of voting: 66 votes for Elias Sarkis/ 3 blank ballots

Bashir Gemayel

August 23, 1982, a month after the beginning of the constitutional period.

99 (92 still alive)

62

  • First round of voting: 58 votes for Bashir Gemayel/ 1 vote for Raymond Eddeh/3 blank ballots
  • Second round of voting: 57 votes for Bashir Gemayel/ 5 blank ballots

Amine Gemayel

September 21, 1982, two days before the end of the constitutional period

99

80

  • First round of voting: 77 votes for Amine Gemayel/ 3 blank ballots

René Mouawad

November 5, 1989

99 (72 still alive)

58

  • First round of voting: 35 votes for René Mouawad / 16 votes for George Saadeh/5 votes for Elias Hrawi
  • Second round of voting: 52 votes for René Mouawad / 6 blank ballots

Elias Hrawi

November 24, 1989

99

52

  • First round of voting: 46 votes for Elias Hrawi / 1 vote for Edmont Rizk/4 blank ballots / 1 invalid ballot
  • Second round of voting: 47 votes for Elias Hrawi / 5 blank ballots

Emile Lahhoud

October 15, 1998, twenty one days after the beginning of the constitutional period. The Constitution was amended on October 13, 1998

128

118

  • First round of voting: all 118 votes for Lahhoud

Michel Suleiman

May 25, 2008

128

127

  • First round of voting: 118 votes for Suleiman / 1 vote for each of Nassib Lahhoud, Rafic Hariri and Jean Oubeid/6 blank ballots

Source: Minutes of parliamentary proceedings

1. Since the law does not impose specific terms or mechanisms for nomination, MPs did not select a presidential candidate but only enshrined what has been agreed upon outside the Parliament and voted for the candidate that seemed to attract both regional and international consensus. This is why all MPs, or the majority of them, used to attend the Parliament’s session except in two cases:

  • In 1970 when the failure to agree over one candidate resulted in presidential competition between Suleiman Frangieh and Elias Sarkis. Frangieh won by one vote gaining 50 votes against 49 for Sarkis.
  • In August 1982 when the quorum was not fulfilled until after hours of waiting during the election of Sheikh Bashir Gemayel.

2. The election occurred under normal conditions only five times. In the remaining eight times when Camille Chamoun, Fouad Chehab, Elias Sarkis, Bashir Gemayel, Amine Gemayel, René Mouawad, Elias Hrawi and Michel Suleiman were elected, the process was governed by unusual circumstances. 



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