Lebanon elects its first new parliament since 2009
- Author: Carolyn Briggs May 09, 2018,
May 09, 2018, 19:42
Saudi Arabia strongly influenced the Future Movement bloc in 2009, but has recently switched focus to other regional issues like those in Yemen, where yet another Iranian proxy conflict is taking place with the Iranian-backed Houthis.
West-backed Prime Minister Saad Hariri's Future Movement suffered losses, said preliminary and unofficial results that came out in the Lebanese media on Monday, May 7.
Their leader Samir Gagegea had spent 11 years in jail during the years of Syrian tutelage in Lebanon, only to be released back in 2005, after the murder of former prime minister Rafik al-Hariri.
Hezbollah, which was founded in the 1980s to fight against Israel, has been branded a terrorist group by the US. Nonetheless, some traditional political forces have faced setbacks, while others have declared victory.
In a televised statement, Hariri said despite gains in Sidon, Tripoli, Beirut and Western Bekaa Valley, the Future Movement had only won 21 out of 128 parliamentary seats.
The election also resulted in the entry to the Parliament of the president's sons-in-laws: Gibran Basil and Shamil Roquez.
The election marked the first serious foray by civil society groups into the electoral sphere, with independent candidates running as part of a campaign known as Kulna Watani, or We Are All the Nation.
"The make-up of the new legislative chamber represents a guarantee and a great strength to protect this strategic choice and to protect the golden equation - the army, the people and the resistance", Nasrallah said. That backfired in favor of Hezbollah and as a result, voter turnout there was very high - reaching 52%. Streets were festooned with candidates' posters and Hezbollah's signature yellow flags.
The elections were the first since war broke out in Syria in 2011, sending more than one million refugees fleeing into Lebanon, a small country with a population estimated at around 4.5 million.
This year's vote is according to a new election law that is based on proportional representation.
French Ambassador to Lebanon Bruno Fuchs congratulated the Lebanese "for their performance of the national duty during the parliamentary elections". Lebanese politics is highly fractured and sectarian, and alliances and negotiations are expected to be worked out after the dust has settled.
Another big victor was the right-wing Christian Lebanese Forces, which nearly doubled its number of seats to 15.
Gibran Bassil, who serves as foreign minister and heads Aoun's party, told reporters on Monday that their bloc could end up having 30 seats. Bassil fell short in Lebanon's last elections in 2009.
The Progressive Socialist Party of Druze leader Walid Jumblatt is expected to win nine MPs. That, along with the new electoral law, has injected some unpredictability to the process.