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Kataeb Party (Lebanon)
The Kataeb Party, better known in English-speaking countries as the Phalange, is a Lebanese political party that was first established as a Maronite nationalist youth movement in 1936 by Pierre Gemayel. It was inspired by Josť Antonio Primo de Rivera's Spanish Falange. The name of the Phalange party derives from the Greek word phalanx.
The influence of the Phalangists was very limited in the early years of Lebanon's independence, but came to prominence as a champion of the Christian cause in the crisis of 1958. In the aftermath of the war, Pierre Gemayel was appointed to the cabinet, and two years later, was elected to the National Assembly. By the end of the decade, the Phalangists held 9 seats in the 99-member National Assembly, making it one of the largest groupings in Lebanon's notoriously fractured political system.
In the 1970s, the Phalangists built a military branch, which by 1976 was led by Bashir Gemayel, Pierre Gemayel's son. Bashir Gemayel was elected President the Republic by the National Assembly in 1982, following the Israeli invasion. He was assassinated less than a month later, and was succeeded by his brother, Amine Gemayel. Amin was widely regarded at the time as possessing neither the charisma and military skill of his brother Bashir, nor the consummate political experience of his father Pierre, and had difficulty rallying the nation and the Phalange Party around him.
When President Amine Gemayel's term ended in 1988, he went into exile. The Phalange Party, lacking direction, broke down into several rival factions. The party is still a significant player on the political scene, despite being divided into two separate factions that virtually amount to separate parties, one being led by Amine Gemayel (who returned from exile in 2000), and the other by Karim Pakradouni .
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