In August 2015, Lebanon witnessed popular demonstrations in response to the government’s failure to manage the garbage crisis. The demonstrations led to the formation of several political groups opposed to the government. However, those groups failed to articulate a unified political framework around which they could organize and mobilize. This failure allowed the sectarian leaders to absorb the shock and stay in power.
As the garbage crises began to reveal the magnitude of the financial crisis that was unfolding, the sectarian leaders in power rushed for help, as usual, to the governor of the central bank, Riad Salameh, who resorted to patch over the cracks through financial engineering. Meanwhile, they reached a political settlement which resulted in electing a new president and conducting municipal elections, while maintaining control over the country’s resources.
Citizens in a State was originally conceived as a collection of political opposition forces and groups who saw the upcoming parliamentary elections as an opportunity to disrupt the sectarianist and tribal discourse that dominated previous elections. They hoped to achieve this through a unified political program with which they ran across the whole country.
Citizens in a State’s attempt to unite opposition forces and organize their collaboration failed due to the emergence of deep differences among them. The focus of some groups on their narrow interests rather than the collective interests was one of the main reasons. The founders of Citizens in a State foresaw the inevitable economic and political collapse and decided, after the 2016 parliamentary elections, to establish a political party that opposes the sectarian leaders who continued to hold on to a failing system. The party aims to organize Lebanese people develop their capabilities and channel their collective efforts to confront the current political order and establish a new secular state.