The Prime Minister has many reasons for celebration; he has shown that the “economic collapse” is not as imminent as his critics predicted. It was weeks, then months, and now perhaps years away. In the collective memory of the public, the debate centers around whether there will be a collapse in a few months or not, and therefore, it appears that the Prime Minister has won the battle. The opposition(s) have not succeeded in culminating public support for a movement of change, whether in values, politics, public administration or the private sector. To that end, all sides lose the battle on a debate that should center on growth and plans to revitalize the economy and the country.

We seem to enjoy the game of Russian roulette, and although the bullet has not gone off, the facts speak for themselves. All sectors of the economy, except tourism, have not experienced growth and are seriously threatened. The Lebanese University, which holds more than 60% of the country’s university student population, is in shambles. Emigration, an aspiration of much of the Lebanese population, is determined by the absorption capacity of host countries. Unemployment is rising, whilst 30,000 new entrants to the job market must be absorbed every year (currently, only 10,000 are being accommodated by the public and private sectors).

The government, however, has declared that the budget will be balanced by 2006, particularly after Paris II, the banks’ contribution of two years interest on a $4 billion loan and the privatization process. Both the government and the opposition are now being challenged. The first to deliver on its promises and the latter to formulate a comprehensive opposition plan. While the government is not celebrating, the opposition is spoiling for a fight, so the government decided to join them in protesting the measures it has itself taken while the opposition continues to attack measures it previously endorsed in parliament. It therefore appears that there has ceased to be a government and an opposition does not exist. An interesting state of affairs!

Jawad Adra