Progressive Socialist Party
PROGRESSIVE SOCIALIST PARTY
The Progressive Socialist Party (PSP) was a major vehicle for the political ambitions of its founder, Kamal Jumblatt. Born in Mukhtara in 1917, Jumblatt belonged to one of the major Druze families, the head of a major Druze family confederation (the Jumblatis) in Lebanon.
The party was originally formed as a multisectarian party with Christians and Muslim intellectuals comprising its leadership, but increasingly it became organized around its president and his electoral calculations and interests. Major policy decisions were undertaken by the president, who is the center of authority. Despite claims to the contrary, the PSP is widely perceived to operate according to the sectarian political interests of the Druze community, as determined by its leader.
The tenets of the party are a mixture of social democratic practices and Arab nationalist thought. Jumblatt believed that industrialization was inevitable but that it had to be reined in because of ecological concerns. The PSP has advocated the abolition of the political confessional system, the creation of civil courts for civil marriages, a unified educational system, the nationalization of important services, and a progressive inheritance taxation system. In foreign policy, the PSP has emphasized Lebanon's Arab identity and role, solidarity with the Palestinian cause, and support for major issues and concerns regarding developing countries.
During the civil war (1975–1976), the PSP under Jumblatt became the linchpin for the Lebanese National Movement and fielded 2,000 fighters. Following the assassination of Jumblatt, his son, Walid Jumblatt, became the president of the PSP in 1977. Walid Jumblatt succeeded in fending off any challenges to his leadership within the Druze community, and in the War of the Mountain (beginning in 1983) he emerged as the undisputed leader of the Druze community. The party has been continuously represented in the parliament since 1972, including in the post-Taʾif parliaments.
see also druze; jumblatt, kamal; jumblatt, walid; lebanese national movement (lnm).
Suleiman, Michael W. Political Parties in Lebanon. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1967.
george e. irani
updated by as'ad abukhalil