Free Patriotic Movement
|Headquarters||Rabieh, Beirut, Lebanon|
|National affiliation||March 8 Alliance|
|Parliament of Lebanon||
19 / 128
|Cabinet of Lebanon||
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The Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) (Arabic: التيار الوطني الحر, at-Tayyār al-Waṭanī al-Horr), also known as the Aounist party (Arabic: التيار العوني, at-Tayyār awne), is a Lebanese political party, led by Gebran Bassil. It is the second largest party in Lebanon's parliament (after the Future Movement) and the largest Christian party. It has 20 out of the 128 seats in parliament (of which 64 seats represent Christians).
The FPM party promotes the rights of Lebanese expatriate and a relatively high minimum wage. The party's support base is overwhelmingly from Lebanon's Christian community, but includes a small number of Shia Muslims. A central figure in the movement is General Michel Aoun. The party's leader is Minister Gebran Bassil.
Aoun return from Exile
For many years, while Aoun was exiled in Paris, he led the FPM from abroad. He returned to Lebanon on 7 May 2005 after the Cedar Revolution forced the withdrawal of the Syrian forces, and then contested the legislative elections held in late May in early June although it placed him on the head of the largest Christian group of deputies. Therefore, the Free Patriotic Movement was established in 2005.
2005 Elections and rise of the FPM
At the time of the 2005 elections, the FPM came up with a detailed political program which contained economic and political reform plans and gained the support of many Lebanese Christians. The FPM won 21 seats in the parliament, and formed the second biggest bloc in the Lebanese Parliament. Being the leading Christian bloc after the election, it joined the March 8 Alliance.
Memorandum of Understanding between the FPM and Hezbollah
In 2006, the FPM signed a memorandum of understanding with Hezbollah organizing their relation and discussing Hezbollah's disarmament, given some conditions. The second and third conditions for disarmament were the return of Lebanese prisoners from Israeli jails and the elaboration of a defense strategy to protect Lebanon from the Israeli threat. The agreement also discussed the importance of having normal diplomatic relations with Syria and the request for information about the Lebanese political prisoners in Syria and the return of all political prisoners and diaspora in Israel.
2006 Lebanese Anti-Government Protest
On 1 December 2006, Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun declared to a crowd of protesters that the current government of Lebanon was unconstitutional, claiming that the government had "made corruption a daily affair" and called for the resignation on the government. Hundred of thousands of supporters of this party, Amal Movement, and Hezbollah, according to the Internal Security Forces (ISF), gathered at Downtown Beirut trying to force Fouad Siniora to abdicate.
2008 Government formation
On 11 July 2008, FPM members, Issam Abu Jamra as deputy-prime minister, Gebran Bassil as minister of telecommunications, and Mario Aoun as minister of social affairs were appointed to the cabinet. It was the Movement's first participation in the Lebanese Government.
Despite the strong media and political war against the Free Patriotic Movement, the results of the 2009 Elections granted the FPM 27 parliamentary seats. The FPM's bloc is the second largest in the Lebanese parliament. The FPM gained 7 more seats than in the 2005 elections, earning at least triple the number of deputies of any other Christian-based bloc in the parliament due to geographical distribution. The total seats won were 57 out of 128, which led to a defeat for the FPM.
2009 Government formation
In November 2009, the Free Patriotic Movement nominated five ministers to join the first government headed by Saad Hariri. The five ministers included:
- Gebran Bassil as Minister of Energy and Water
- Charbel Nahas as Minister of Telecommunications
- Youssef Saade as Minister of State
- Abraham Dadayan as Minister of Industry
- Fadi Abboud as Minister of Tourism
The Free Patriotic Movement launched its own broadcasting channel (OTV) on 20 July 2007, and their own radio station called Sawt Al Mada (English:Voice of Scope) on 1 June 2009.
2011 Government formation
In June 2011, the Change and Reform bloc led by Aoun nominated eleven ministers to join the second government headed by Najib Mikati, gaining more than double the share they had in the former government The eleven ministers are:
Ministers with Portfolios:
- Shakib Qortbawi as Minister of Justice
- Fayez Ghosn as Minister of Defense
- Gebran Bassil as Minister of Energy
- Nicolas Sehnaoui as Minister of Telecommunications
- Vrej Sabounjian as Minister of Industry
- Fadi Aboud as Minister of Tourism
- Charbel Nahas as Minister of Labour
- Gaby Layoun as Minister of Culture
- Marwan Charbel as Minister of Interior and Municipalities (merge power between Aoun and Michel Suleiman)
Ministers without Portfolios:
- Salim Karam
- Panos Manjian
2014 Government formation
In February 2014, the Change and Reform bloc led by Michel Aoun nominated four ministers to join the national unity government headed by Prime Minister Tammam Salam. The Free Patriotic Movement had two ministers:
- Gebran Bassil as Minister of Foreign and Expatriates (Free Patriotic Movement)
- Elias Bou Saab as Minister of Education (Free Patriotic Movement)
- Arthur Nazarian as Minister of Energy (Tashnag Party)
- Ronnie Arayji as Minister of Culture (Marada Movement)
2015 FPM Elections for Leadership
On the 17th of August, 2015, Minister Gebran Bassil was chosen by General Michel Aoun as the new leader for the Free Patriotic Movement. No elections were done because it could have possibly led to fracturing the party, and so Alain Aoun stepped down from candidacy in order for Bassil to be assigned as the new leader.
2016 Lebanese Forces and FPM
Lebanese Forces (LF) leader Samir Geagea and Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) Founder MP Michel Aoun turned a historic page in intra-Christian relations when the former March 14 presidential nominee officially endorsed on Monday Aoun's candidacy for the presidency.
"I announce after long consideration, discussions and deliberations between members of the executive body of the Lebanese Forces, our endorsement of the candidacy of [former] General Michel Aoun for the presidency," Geagea said in joint news conference with his March 8 rival.
Speaking from the LF's headquarters in Maarab where he had met with Aoun shortly before the news conference, Geagea read a 10-point understanding that summarized the key points of the Declaration of Intent struck between the LF and FPM in June.
The commitment to the implementation of the Taif Accord, the need to stop the flow of arms and militants across the Lebanese-Syrian border in both directions, the ratification of a new electoral law and compliance with international resolutions were among the key points agreed upon between the LF and FPM, Geagea said.
As he read the key points of his understanding with Aoun, Geagea paused for a moment to tell joke. With humor, the LF leader asked Aoun to urge his son-in-law Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil to act in accordance with the sixth point of their agreement.
Geagea was referring to his understanding with the Former general over "the need to adopt an independent foreign policy that guarantees Lebanon's interests and complies with international law."
For his part, Aoun thanked Geagea for his support and said he would extend his hands to all political parties.
Geagea's official endorsement of Aoun's nomination would provide a significant boost for the former general's presidential bid but it remains unclear how the Future Movement would react to this initiative.
Before his arrival to the LF's headquarters, Aoun met with Maronite Patriarch BecharaRai, who has repeatedly voiced his support for initiatives aimed at breaking the presidential deadlock.
"We came to inform the patriarch of the agreement," Aoun said from the seat of the Maronite church.
Earlier in the day, Rai had met with former Prime Minister and head of the Future Movement parliamentary bloc Fouad Siniora. Following his meeting with the patriarch, Siniora stressed the need to elect a president who enjoys the support of all Lebanese factions.
"We have to work hard to elect a person who can unite all Lebanese people from all political affiliations and promote coexistence among them," said Siniora.
Geagea's endorsement of Aoun is the first time the country's two leading Christian parties have come together on such a pivotal issue after decades of animosity.
Geagea, the former March 14 presidential candidate, was caught by surprise when his ally Future Movement leader and former Prime Minister Saad Hariri reportedly nominated Marada Movement Chief Suleiman Franjieh for the presidency.
Geagea has staunchly opposed the deal, which stirred up controversy both within the March 8 and 14 camps.
Aoun, on the other hand, had shown no signs of giving up his presidential ambitions in favor of Franjieh, a longtime ally of Hezbollah and a member of Aoun's reform and Change parliamentary bloc.
For weeks Hezbollah remained silent over Hariri's proposed settlement, as Franjieh sought to win the support of its allies.
Hezbollah finally broke its media silence Dec. 29, 2015, and reaffirmed its support for Aoun's presidential bid.
In the first official statement since Hariri's initiative emerged, Hezbollah's Politburo Chief Sayyed Ibrahim Amin al-Sayyed announced from the seat of the Maronite patriarchate that his party is committed to supporting the presidential bid of its ally Aoun.
Aoun and Geagea kicked off talks a year ago. The talks culminated in a Declaration of Intent that paved the way for a surprise visit by Geagea to Aoun's residence in Rabieh in June.
The Declaration of Intent has since brought Aoun and Geagea closer together, putting an end to the bitter rivalry between the Christian leaders who fought a devastating war in 1990.
Lebanon's top post has been vacant since May 2014 as Lebanese politicians failed to agree on a consensus president.
- Jeremy Jones (2007). Negotiating Change: The New Politics of the Middle East. I.B.Tauris. p. 112. ISBN 978-1-84511-270-7. Retrieved 27 September 2014.
- Haddad, Simon (2009). "Lebanon: From Consociationalism to Conciliation". Nationalism and Ethnic Politics. 15 (3-4). doi:10.1080/13537110903346684.
- MPLBelgique (1 December 2011). "Rétrospective – Retour sur le mouvement d’opposition au gouvernement Siniora… où joie et bonne humeur contrastent avec la haine prônée aujourd’hui par le clan Hariri".
- Huge Beirut rally demands change, BBC, 1 December 2006
- Free Patriotic Movement - official website
- Free Patriotic Movement Message Boards (Official Forum)
- FLF in Germany: Freiheitlichen Libanesischen Freundeskreis e.V. German version of the FPM website.
- CPL en France : Rassemblement pour le Liban
- CPL en Belgique : Mouvement pour le Liban
- FPM political platform (in English)
- Memorandum of Joint Understanding between Hezbollah and the Free Patriotic Movement
- Charter of the Free Patriotic Movement Party