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president 2014

Maya Gebeily

Female presidential candidate goes for “people power”

Moussa got no votes today, but is gearing up for next week’s session

Nadine Moussa

Meet Nadine Moussa. A lawyer and mother of two, Moussa is a passionate advocate of female empowerment and civil governance in Lebanon.

 

She’s also the only woman running to be Lebanon’s next president.

 

Moussa is one of only three announced candidates at the time of this writing, accompanied by Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea and Progressive Socialist Party parliamentarian Henri Helou. She received no votes in today’s electoral session in parliament, and when NOW spoke to her after the session, Moussa was furious.

 

“I was there today, and I watched a theatre performance – and not a funny one,” Moussa said. “I’m upset at the democratic system in Lebanon, and I’m even sadder for the Lebanese people.” Moussa told NOW she had been told that copies of her electoral platform would be distributed to members of parliament before the vote, but no such thing had happened. She said that during the next electoral session on April 30, candidates should get the chance to introduce themselves and present their platforms to the MPs. “And the person who presents the best program should be voted in,” Moussa said.

 

Moussa has divided her political platform into seven promises, which include creating a “citizen’s state” and establishing the full sovereignty of Lebanese territories. When asked what her first act would be if elected into office, she answered, “The first one is so easy, I could do it immediately: I would make public my financial transactions, as well as the transactions of my family and of my staff.” She said this move would be the first step toward fighting the pervasive corruption in Lebanon’s political class.

 

Not all of Moussa’s platform promises would be so easy to implement. “I want to change the sectarian regime – not just the government, the whole sectarian system,” she told NOW. In a country where politics and identity are closely tied to religion, her goal seems more than just ambitious, but Moussa is adamant. She said building a “citizen’s state” in Lebanon will require reinvigorating Lebanon’s state institutions, which, if operating properly, would allow people to rely on the government instead of individual sects. “This sectarian regime will keep us in civil wars, the ones you see and the ones you don’t, unless we take steps to fix it,” she said. 

 

Instead of Lebanese citizens relying on “sectarian emirs,” as Moussa calls current Lebanese political leaders, she hopes to build a Lebanese state based on rights, the sovereignty of law, and social justice. “Social justice is the basis of building a nation, of civil peace, and of continued security,” Moussa said. She told NOW that in the 21st century, it is no longer acceptable that uninsured Lebanese die on hospital doorsteps, or that schoolteachers with more than 30 years of experience barely make enough money to feed their families.

 

Moussa says one of the biggest challenges she has encountered is a “masculine mindset” among voters that perpetuates the idea that men should be active in politics, while women can choose to be involved in charities or non-governmental organizations. She was surprised to find this mindset more prevalent among women than men. “When I was campaigning for parliamentary elections in 2013, I went up to the villages to meet people,” she told NOW. “Many women were saying things like, ‘what do you want with something like this, you should start a charity’ or ‘why don’t you start with municipal elections?’”

 

“So I decided to start with the presidential elections!” Moussa said with a laugh.

 

Her message of eradicating corruption, building a civil state free of sectarian influence, and advocating for social justice have resonated with segments of Lebanese society. Her Facebook page has garnered over 5,000 likes, with frequent posts from supporters, and one online poll had Moussa in fourth place among 12 potential presidential candidates. Still, without traditional sources of political support, Moussa’s messaging may not be enough. Nada Saleh Anid, from the female empowerment NGO Women in Front, told NOW that women who belong to political parties typically do better in Lebanese municipal or parliamentary elections than women who run independently. “Nadine’s challenge is that she’s an outsider coming in from outside the traditional political game,” Anid said.

 

But Moussa said she believes in people power over the influence of political parties. “People have a really important card in their hands that they’re not playing: they can impose their will upon members of parliament,” she said. She cited increasing political pressure by NGOs and civil society activists in the last months on issues ranging from the law against domestic violence to public wage salaries. Despite the fact that Lebanon’s president isn’t popularly elected, Moussa said her campaign strategy is to get the support of the people based on her platform.  

 

“Everyone talks about a strong president. A strong president gets his biggest strength from the people – when he’s elected by the people, political factions can’t challenge or weaken him.”

Moussa, who isn't backed by any formal political parties, says she aims for a non-sectarian state. (Image courtesy of Nadine Moussa for Presidency 2014)

“I want to change the sectarian regime – not just the government, the whole sectarian system.”

  • ekn

    go nadine go, yet change has to be done from within, and it is a tortuous path, patience and resilience. pivotal will be also to create a team , to address students in a cycle of university q& A , and to visit some farmers and hospitals. maximum visibility and a clear will for reform, playing a bicycle team with henri helou, where he will create the momentum and keep the path, until nadine comes from behind and wins. ideal would be a second voting session on april 30, with a quorum of 90 MP's , where the vote after explaining the presidential platform to the parliament will end as follows geagea 25, helou 25 , nadine moussa 13, and 22 the rest blank. Hezbollah should embrace the election of nadine moussa. she has grace, simplicity, determination and vision

    April 25, 2014