Sabri Hamadi, a member of one of the most influential Shiʿite families in Lebanon, was born in Hirmil. He received no formal education beyond some elementary schooling in Juniya. He was first elected to parliament in 1925 and was its speaker for much of the 1960s. With Bishara al-Khuri, Hamadi was one of the founders of the Constitutional Bloc. He was a shrewd politician who knew how to exploit the differences among his enemies.
Under Hamadi, the parliament was chaotically structured; appointments within it were made on the basis of total loyalty to him. His cronies from Baʿlabak-Hirmil, including some who rarely came to Beirut, where the parliament is located, were on the payroll in key administrative positions. His rule was closely associated with the ascendancy of Chehabism in Lebanon; Hamadi believed that Fuʾad Chehab was the best leader in the Arab world.
As a speaker of parliament in the summer of 1970, Hamadi played a crucial role in the presidential election of that year. When Sulayman Franjiyya defeated the Chehabi candidate, Ilyas Sarkis, Hamadi initially refused to accept the results. He changed his mind after his advisers and Fuʾad Chehab personally warned him of the dire consequences if Franjiyya's election was not ratified. Franjiyya's armed gunmen were waiting outside the parliamentary hall. Hamadi lost the speakership position that year but served as minister of agriculture under Franjiyya.
See also chehab, fuʾad; constitutional bloc; franjiyya, sulayman; khuri, bishara al-; sarkis, ilyas.
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