Has Hezbollah contributed to the democratisation process in Lebanon and subsequently can Hezbollah be seen as a democratising actor?
Debates about Islamist movements in political life in the Middle East are based on definitions of democracy and perceptions of what constitutes undemocratic and democratic behaviour. I would argue that a main problem with this debate is that these perceptions are based on general definitions as well as historical examples derived from certain historical contexts and geographical areas. The challenge, as I see it, is to analyse an actor in relation to democratic theories, without abstracting it from its own context. The aim of this thesis is therefore to provide a contextual analysis of democratisation in Lebanon and to assess the role of Hezbollah in this process. The challenge is to identify Lebanon’s democratic deficits as well as the characteristics of a Lebanese democratising actor. Lebanon is currently in a process of democratisation. Accordingly, Hezbollah will be seen as Lebanese actor that operates within a democratic process, and in relation to the Lebanese democratic challenges. The thesis consists of two main parts: An analytical framework and an analysis. The first aim of the analytical framework is to identify the characteristics of a democratising actor. Here it has been important to see the democratisation process in relation to the conditions in Lebanon. I have therefore applied both a general theory of democracy and democratisation, and an analysis of the regional and domestic challenges concerning democratisation.The analysis is structured by a statistical measurement of the level of democracy in Lebanon, done by Freedom House. I have used this measurement in order to locate what is the core of the democratic problem. In Freedom House’s measurement I have found three obstacles of special importance. Each chapter begins with an obstacle and proceeds by a discussion of Hezbollah’s role in relation to this obstacle. The aim is to answer the question of whether Hezbollah has contributed to the democratisation process in light of these obstacles.Through this debate it becomes clear that Hezbollah thus in fact contribute to the democratisation. In the final chapter, on the basis of the previous discussion, I apply the six criteria to Hezbollah and herby summarize Hezbollah’s role as a democratising actor in Lebanon.