Lebanon's ethnic and religions diversity has had an enormous impact on its governmental system. Traditionally the president of the country is a Maronite Christian, the prime minister a Sunni Muslim, and the speaker of parliament a Shiite Muslim. The country is governed under the constitution of 1926 as amended. Under the constitution, the president, who is the head of state and wields real power, is elected by the legislature for a six-year term and cannot serve consecutive terms. The government is headed by the prime minister, who is appointed by the president. The unicameral legislature consists of the 128-seat National Assembly, whose members are elected by popular vote on the basis of sectarian proportional representation for four-year terms. There are independent secular courts based on the French system and religious courts for such issues as marriage, divorce, and inheritance. The Ta'if accord of 1989, which aimed at national reconciliation, gave Muslims a share in governmental power equal to that of Christians, and calls for all main religious groups to be represented in the cabinet. Administratively, Lebanon is divided into eight governorates.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.