Since independence from France, Lebanon’s government has been shared by Christian, Shi’ite and Sunni Muslims according to a 1943 formula that accorded majority power to Christians. This formula has remained in place, failing to reflect changing demographics: the president would be Christian; the prime minister, Sunni Muslim; and the head of parliament, Shi’ite. All religions would have positions in parliament, ranked by the size of religious communities.
Struggles for power within Lebanon also reflect wider struggles between Lebanon and Israel, Syria, and Iran.
Syria has vacillated vis-à-vis Lebanon, reflecting its dual fears that Lebanon could emerge either as a Christian state that would side with Israel, or a radical Islamic state.
In 2005, former Prime Minister Rafiq Al-Hariri was assassinated. A U.N. Tribunal, as of early 2011, looked ready to accuse the Syrian-backed Hezbollah group. Hezbollah-backed parties resigned from government, forcing its collapse.
President Michel Slieman has named Syrian/Iranian favorite, Najib Mikati, as prime minister.