Parliamentary elections in Lebanon: Hizballah expects to win

Saul Bowman
May 8, 2018

"I extend my appreciation and gratitude to all who delivered on their duties", said Hezbollah Secretary General Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah, on Monday. Hezbollah has sent thousands of fighters to Syria to shore up Assad's forces, and its alleged military involvement in Iraq and Yemen has led many Sunni Gulf countries to brand it a terrorist group.

Lebanon's president must always be Maronite Christian, the prime minister Sunni Muslim and the parliament speaker a Shia Muslim.

Lebanon's sectarian-based power-sharing politics mean no single alliance in the 128-seat parliament will enjoy a stable majority and analysts expect a fragile status quo to be preserved.


Among the main results of the elections is the fixed position of the two Christian parties, the Aounist party and the Lebanese Forces, who have won good blocs, according to their representation.

But in recent years, Riyadh has cut support for Hariri, backing that helped Future in 2009 as part of the March 14 coalition, which focused on making Hezbollah give up its arms.

In October 2016 parliament elected Michel Aoun of the Free Patriotic Movement, a Hezbollah ally as president. Last month, independent Shia candidate Ali Al Amin, standing against Hezbollah and Amal, another dominant Shia party, said 30 Hezbollah supporters beat him up as he placed an election poster in the southern Lebanese town of Bint Jbeil.

Hezbollah, along with affiliated groups and individuals, secured at least 67 seats, according to a Reuters calculation based on preliminary results for almost all the seats obtained from politicians and campaigns and reported in Lebanese media.

The unofficial results show a major boost to the Iranian-backed movement.

In a televised address to the nation, Nasrallah said Hezbollah had achieved its stated goals, and thanked the Central election Commission for the operational conduct of elections in the country.

An official vote count is soon to come, although prime minister Hariri has acknowledged a significant loss in seats.

Commenting on the general election Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri on Monday said he was satisfied with the result of his Tayyar Al-Mustaqbal (Future Movement) Sunni party.

The next Lebanon government, like the outgoing one, will likely be a unity government that incorporates Hariri's opponents from the Shiite Hezbollah group.

Hariri, who led years of political conflict with the group, says it is an issue to be resolved at the regional level through dialogue. "It's the first time I vote", Therese, 60, told AFP outside a voting centre in central Beirut.

Everyone has been waiting to see how the past nine years, and all the security and political developments in Lebanon and the region, have affected Lebanese parties - and what the elections would be like.

The biggest victor so far is the right-wing Christian Lebanese Forces, which nearly doubled its number of seats to 15.

A Lebanese man showcases his ink-stained thumb after casting his vote in the first Lebanese parliamentary election in nine years, in the coastal city of Byblos, north of the capital Beirut.

Hariri said confusion over the new electoral process was behind the poor turnout.

The elections were the first since war broke out in Syria in 2011, sending over 1 million refugees to Lebanon, a small country with a population estimated at around 4.5 million.

But some other voters were sceptical the election signalled an improvement in Lebanon's political climate.

The polls were also marked by a low turnout of 49.2% and the emergence of a civil society movement challenging Lebanon's oligarchs was set to clinch a pair of seats in parliament.

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