National Liberal Party

Lebanon Table of Contents

Established in 1958 by Camille Shamun after he left the presidency, the National Liberal Party (NLP) was a predominantly Maronite organization, although it had some non-Maronites and nonChristians in its leadership. More or less a political vehicle for Shamun, perhaps the most charismatic of all Christian leaders, the NLP lacked a coherent ideology or program. Although the NLP never matched the organizational efficiency of the Phalange Party, they shared many views, including favoring a free-market economy, anticommunism, close association with the West, and, most important, the continuation of Christian political advantage. In the early 1970s, the NLP claimed 60,000 to 70,000 members and controlled as many as 11 seats in the Chamber of Deputies, and Shamun had occupied several ministerial posts after his term as president.

During the 1975 Civil War, the NLP and its militia, the Tigers (Namur in Arabic), participated in the Lebanese Front, and Shamun, who was driven from his home district in the Shuf Mountains, was an active leader in the alliance. When, in July 1980, Bashir Jumayyil launched a surprise attack, defeating the Tigers, the political and military significance of the NLP declined. The party again suffered a severe setback in August 1987 when Shamun died. His son Dani assumed the chairmanship of the party, which still harbored hopes for the presidential election scheduled for 1988.

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Source: U.S. Library of Congress