AïN ZHALTA, Lebanon — Lebanon’s biggest Druze party on Sunday chose Taymour Jumblatt, 41, to succeed his father as leader of the small but influential community in the country’s power-sharing system.
Almost 2,000 supporters gathered in Ain Zhalta, in the Druze heartland of the Chouf mountains, where members of the Progressive Socialist Party (PSP) named the lawmaker as their new leader, after his father headed the party for 45 years.
He takes up the mantle at a time when Lebanon has been reeling from three years of grueling economic crisis, widely blamed on the governing elite of which the Jumblatt dynasty is a core component.
“Taymour Jumblatt won the presidency of the Progressive Socialist Party, for which he was the sole contender,” the PSP said in a statement.
His father Walid Jumblatt, 73, had already passed the leadership of his community to his son in 2017.
The PSP was founded by Taymour’s grandfather Kamal, and has become all but synonymous with the Druze community.
PSP votes could prove pivotal in parliament at a time when lawmakers have failed 12 times to elect a new president.
The political deadlock has left Lebanon without a president for eight months. The country has been governed by a caretaker cabinet with limited powers for more than a year.
The Druze are a secretive offshoot of Islam that make up around five percent of Lebanon’s population, but who have wielded political clout under Taymour’s father.
Born in 1982 during the civil war, Taymour studied at the American University of Beirut, where he met his wife Diana Zeaiter, a Shiite Muslim, and at the Sorbonne in France.