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Lebanon, Northern Ireland and Macedonia

The most different systems design method of comparative research was employed to select Lebanon, Northern Ireland and Macedonia as the three case studies. This method is ideally suited to the aims of the present research: to generate novel hypotheses in a previously unexplored field and to discern patterns among few case studies. Lebanon, Northern Ireland and Macedonia are similar in two important respects: they experienced violent conflicts among religious, national and ethnic communities and established consociational power-sharing to regulate these conflicts. Still, a comparison of education policies across these three consociations is particularly interesting because of the similarities and differences in their demographic structure, their violent conflicts and their peace agreements.

Demography

Lebanon, Northern Ireland and Macedonia are heterogeneous societies and comprise several communities, which may be ‘ “peoples”, “national groups”, cultural groups, ethnic, religious or language groups’.9 The three societies differ in the degree of diversity in their populations, in the most (politically) relevant markers of identity and group membership, and in

Lebanese population by sect according to the 1932 census (Lebanese 1932 census, qtd. in Imad Salamey, The government and polities of Lebanon (London

Fig. 1.1 Lebanese population by sect according to the 1932 census (Lebanese 1932 census, qtd. in Imad Salamey, The government and polities of Lebanon (London: Routledge, 2014): 25)

the political impact of demography. Moreover, Chap. 3, tracing the history of education in Lebanon, Northern Ireland and Macedonia, confirms that the most politically salient marker of identity in each society ‘is the one that is perceived as being important from the point of view of the allocation of government resources’.10

Thus, religious affiliation emerged as the primary marker of communal belonging in Lebanon, where 18 official religious sects coexist. Religious sects in Lebanon largely determine ‘identity, social position and political power’, so they are functionally similar to ethnic, national and racial groups elsewhere.11 Chapter 3 explains that religious belonging has also been historically associated with diverging national outlooks, political ideologies and foreign affiliations, and has competed with important integrative factors, such as the overwhelming prevalence of the Arabic language as a mother tongue. The last official census was conducted in 1932 and, as Fig. 1.1 shows, found a slight majority of Christians (Maronites, Greek Orthodox, Greek Catholics, Armenians and Other Christians) over Muslims (Sunni, Shia and Druze).

The confessional political system of independent Lebanon overestimated the Christian population and assigned parliamentary seats according to a ratio of six Christians for every five Muslims. The posts of president, prime minister and speaker of the parliament were allocated to individuals belonging to the three largest religious sects: a Maronite, a Sunni and a Shia, respectively. Due to the destabilising political impact of demographic change, no census has been conducted since 1932, and successive waves of refugees have been marginalised in economic life and excluded from political participation. Thus, Sawsan and Khawaja present the substantial Palestinian refugee population as Lebanon’s ‘unrecognised sect’, a group lacking political representation despite its considerable demographic weight.12

The constitutional reforms agreed after the 1975-1989 civil war acknowledge demographic change and a new balance of power among local communities: they assign equal numbers of parliamentary seats to Christians and Muslims as well as to the Sunni and Shia. In fact, electoral results suggest that the Christian Maronites may only account for 19 % of the total Lebanese population, the Sunni Muslims for only 21 % and the Shia Muslims for over 34 %.13

Thus, the distribution of parliamentary seats does not reflect the relative demographic strength of Lebanon’s communities: it grants Christians a political influence disproportionate to their demographic weight and lessens the political relevance of Shia Muslims, thereby fuelling the Sunni- Shia resentments which, since 2005, have ‘replaced the civil war’s Muslim- Christian divide’.14

Similarly, Connolly and Maginn point to the ‘apparently contradictory fact that you can be a “Protestant” or a “Catholic” in Northern Ireland while also being an agnostic or an atheist’.15 As Chap. 3 explains, the political saliency of religious identities in Northern Ireland is due to their coincidence with national belonging and with aspirations for the constitutional future. Northern Ireland is less religiously diverse than Lebanon, with only two major Christian denominations: Protestants account for about 42 % and Catholics for about 40 % of the population (Fig. 1.2).

Chapter 3 explains that Catholics historically viewed themselves as Irish and called for a united and independent Ireland, while Protestants privileged British nationality and sought to preserve the union of Northern Ireland with Great Britain. In fact, the 2011 census questions this dichotomy: as Fig. 1.3 shows, in 2011, 40 % of the population viewed themselves as British, 21 % as Northern Irish and only 25 % as Irish. This confirms

Northern Ireland’s population by religious affiliation according to the 2011 census

Fig. 1.2 Northern Ireland’s population by religious affiliation according to the 2011 census (‘Religion - full detail_QS218NI’ Northern Ireland statistics & research agency, Census 2011, http://www.ninis2.nisra.gov.uk/public/Theme. aspx?themeNumber=136&themeName=Census%202011)

Northern Ireland’s population by national identity according to the 2011 census

Fig. 1.3 Northern Ireland’s population by national identity according to the 2011 census (‘National Identity - Full Detail_QS205NI’ Northern Ireland Statistics & Research Agency, Census 2011, http://www.ninis2.nisra.gov.uk/ public/Theme.aspx?themeNumber=136&themeName=Census%202011)

Macedonia’s population by ethnic affiliation according to the 2002 census (State Statistical Office, Census of population, households and dwellings 2002. Book X

Fig. 1.4 Macedonia’s population by ethnic affiliation according to the 2002 census (State Statistical Office, Census of population, households and dwellings 2002. Book X: Total population according to ethnic affiliation, mother tongue and religion (Skopje: State Statistical Office, 2002): 62)

that a considerable number of Catholics do not hold an exclusively Irish national identity.

Macedonia is diverse in terms of its ethnic belonging and mother tongue. In 2002, ethnic Macedonians accounted for only 64 % of the population, with a further 25 % of Albanians, 4 % of Turks, 3 % of Romas and smaller percentages of other ethnic groups (Fig. 1.4). Ethnic Macedonians speak the Macedonian language, whose genesis was inextricably linked to the creation of a state, as Chap. 3 shows. The mother tongues of Albanians, Turks and Roma are the Albanian, Turkish and Romani languages, respectively.

Ethnicity also overlaps with religious belonging, and since the late 1990s, political discourse has increasingly identified Islam with being Albanian and Orthodox Christianity with being Macedonian. As Fig. 1.5 shows, in 2001 the majority of Macedonia’s population was Orthodox Christian or Muslim (primarily Sunni). As in Lebanon, no census could be conducted since 2002 because of the politicisation of demographic figures.

A comparison of the demographic structures of Lebanon, Northern Ireland and Macedonia confirms that they are three deeply divided societies: among their indigenous populations, demographic and identity cleavages coincide, local communities claim separate descent and often

Macedonia’s population by religious affiliation according to the 2002 census (ibid., 334)

Fig. 1.5 Macedonia’s population by religious affiliation according to the 2002 census (ibid., 334)

‘coexist in parallel rather than live together’.16 While the existence of deep communal fractures is not sufficient ‘for the aggregation of interests’,17 in the three societies, ‘most political parties mobilise along ethno-national lines’.18 However, in all three societies multiple political parties compete for the votes of members of each ethnic, confessional and national community. Moreover, overarching interests and cross-cutting political cleavages exist in all three societies. Most apparently, Hanf found that most Lebanese hold a desire for peaceful coexistence and a perception of collective interests above those of different communities.19

 
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